Kingwood Park steals headlines for 2018 volleyball

Kingwood Park falls under that special category and used the 2018 season to buck history. VYPE

Originally Appeared on VYPE

THERE ALWAYS HAS TO BE A FIRST.

A team who overcomes the odds stacked against them because they have never been there or done that.

Kingwood Park falls under that special category and used the 2018 season to buck history.

The Panthers had to face Lucas Lovejoy for the title, a team that was making its eighth state tournament appearance, compared to this being Park's inaugural trip. Kingwood Park didn't back down and instead shocked the Texas high school volleyball world by sweeping Lovejoy, 3-0.

Libby Overmyer (VYPE Public School Player of the Year) was a key piece to Kingwood Park's success. Just a junior, she sacrificed everything for her team on a per-play basis. Overmyer exemplified what being a great leader on and off the court is. Expect the same as she will be back for her senior season.

St. John's is a storied volleyball program in the private school realm, winning 14 state championships heading into this year. But the Mavericks hadn't claimed one since the 2009 season.

The Mavericks ended the drought this fall by winning another Southwestern Preparatory Conference State Championship.

Led by Celia Adams, Alexandra Lewis, Siena Zerr and Nova Manning, St. John's was able to claim the program's 15th state title.

Ridge Point also turned in a year for the record books, reaching the state championship game before falling short to Flower Mound.

The Panthers were led by future Longhorn – Skylar Fields, who finished the year with 471 kills. Ridge Point was a junior-heavy team, meaning 2019 will again be a year to watch this crew. Claire Jeter had a breakout season, recording 490 kills, while Reagan Rutherford, Randee Hennings and Lindsey Ogle also had nice years.

This team nearly won it all this year and with the experience they have now, expect them to be a force next fall again.

Another player who stood out this year was Concordia Lutheran's Isabel Zelaya (Pepperdine-signee).

Zelaya capped off a great high school career with an amazing senior year. The future Pepperdine star had 900 assists, 512 kills, 368 digs, 90 aces and 59 blocks, which all led the team.

Phenomenal players and teams! Cannot wait to see what 2019 brings us.


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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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