High School Volleyball

Texas power programs do battle in state semis

TWHS Skylar Scott. Photo by Jerry Baker

Originally appeared on Vype.com.

So, can the Hebron Hawks be knocked off their perch a top Class 6A volleyball?

The Hawks have won back-to-back state titles. The last team to do that was… The Woodlands. The Woodlands and Hebron do battle Friday night in the UIL State Semis in Garland, Texas, and one of these power programs will be the odd-on favorites to win the Class 6A title.

The Highlanders and Hawks faced off in the John Turner Classic earlier this season and battle it out in a best of three sets, where the Hawks won.

“It was a crazy competitive match,” The Woodlands Terri Wade said. “When we watch the film over, it was a battle of great players. This is going to be about who is going to make the least amount of errors.”

The Woodlands is led by setter Sophie Walls (Miami-signee) and hitters Courtney Heiser (Texas State), Dylan Maberry (LSU) and AJ Koele (Mississippi State). The defensive star is Georgia Murphy (Oregon) along with Skylar Scott.

“We have three hitters with over 400 kills a piece,” she said. “We run a fast offense and Sophie never comes off the floor. She runs the offense and is aggressive. No one compete like her. She’s a vocal leader and has improved so much over the past three years.”

This is Wade’s first state final appearance at The Woodlands and is trying to quell her excitement.

“Just the anxiety of being competitive is what fuels me,” she said. “We aren’t going to talk about what Hebron does. We just worry about what we can control. We have faced some great teams this season, so we are ready.”

Hebron counters with Minnesota-commit Adanna Rollins (469 kills) and Emma Clothier (351 kills) up front and San Diego-signee Annie Benbow on defense. The Hawks have a lofty No. 2 ranking in the state of Texas and have won four title over the past 12 years.

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It's easy to blame Bill O'Brien for the Texans woes. He is a lousy GM, a below average play caller and his offense is boring, predictable and ineffective. Not once has he had a top 10 offense in the league. So he does not get a pass here.

But Deshaun Watson shouldn't, either.

Last year, Watson was in the MVP conversation entering the game in Baltimore. Four of the nine games he played before that, Watson had an ESPN Total QBR over 85, which is playing at an elite level.

Since that 41-7 debacle (where his QBR was 13.6), Watson has played 10 games. He has topped 85 just once (and barely - 85.6) in the win over the Patriots. While QBR is not the be all end all, it shows a trend. And before you blame the talent around him or the ridiculously stupid DeAndre Hopkins trade, eight of those games were with Hopkins in the lineup.

Over his last 10 games, Patrick Mahomes has done it five times (and just missed last week at 84.7). Lamar Jackson has done it six times in his last 10. Russell Wilson is six for his last 10. Dak Prescott? Three. Aaron Rodgers? Three. Ryan Tannehill? Three. Josh Allen? Two. Lamar Jackson led the league last year with an 83 for the season. Watson was sixth at 71.3. To be a top 10 quarterback, you had to average 64.1. In two games this season, Watson sits 20th, about where he was over the last six regular season games and two playoff games last year.

In essence, Deshaun Watson - who often gets compared to those players - is not on their level. Yes, O'Brien has a lot to do with it, but it's also time to start looking at Watson's performance and regression as an NFL quarterback.

In 2018, Watson had four such games. In 2017, four in six starts. And now ONE since that Baltimore game. In fact, he has topped 80 just once in that stretch, and 60 just three times.

What it tells us is Watson has been an average quarterback over his last 10 starts. The Texans invested heavily in an offensive line to protect him. They have added depth at WR but a net loss without Hopkins. Elite quarterbacks turn in performances like that roughly half the time. Getting more consistent has always been an issue for Watson. But since that Baltimore game, he has not been close. And he is being paid to be elite.

In the end, O'Brien is still the main culprit. He has hand picked all the players around Watson, he designed the offense, and he controls everything.

But it's time to quit giving Watson a pass. Right now, he is part of the problem.

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