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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Let him cook! Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets are in the midst of a rebuild. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr are studs. KPJ just signed a four-year extension with the team. Other guys like Jabari Smith Jr, Kenyon Martin Jr, Alperen Sengun, Josh Christopher, Tari Eason, and Jae'Sean Tate are really good pieces to surround Green and KPJ with. The only issue with this group: they're REALLY young! Tate is the elder statesman at 27 of the young nucleus. Most are barely old enough to buy a drink. Some still aren't old enough! They're a bunch of green bananas waiting to turn yellow to slightly brown and be ripe enough for consumption.

We need to give it time. Just like bananas, they take time to ripen. Coach Stephen Silas is known for developing young players. His most prized student is the star player for that team in South Oklahoma up 45. Number 77 for that team credited Silas with helping him realize his All-Pro potential while Silas was a part of the coaching staff there. To a man, all his former players credit him with being a positive influence on their careers. So why are fans in a rush to get rid of him?

When you look at the Rockets' record over the last few years, it's gross. Sure, they've been a lottery team the last couple of seasons, but that was by design. As part of the Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook trades, they gave away pick swap rights. Had they not been that bad, they wouldn't have been able to draft Green or Smith Jr. Those two guys are building blocks for the future, along with KPJ. Giving those picks away would've put this team further down the totem pole of developing themselves into a contender. Losing pays off when you can hit on high lottery picks.

If you give a chef dirt, bread, ham, molded cheese, and spoiled mayo, can you expect anything else but a nasty ham sandwich? How about if the chef was given a steak that is almost rotten, potatoes with root growth, and spoiled butter? Could you expect a better meal than the sandwich? Yes! However, that meal may still cause a stomachache. Now, give said chef a full complement of gourmet groceries and guess what you'll get?

This is why I say let Silas cook. He's the perfect coach for this group of kids. He can teach them all the fundamentals of the game at this level and help them grow into their full potential. If there's a change to be made on the sidelines, move Silas into a front office role, but DO NOT get rid of him! Guys like him are too valuable. Why do you think Mark Cuban hated losing him, but knew he couldn't retain him because he had a head coach already? Cuban knew what he had in Silas and what Silas did for Luka Doncic. He can do something similar for the Rockets if given the time to work his magic.

Should Tilman Fertita find the need to move on, I'd look for a more experienced coach who can guide them from bottom of the playoff ladder into top four in the West and real contenders. For now, Silas is the head chef. Continue giving him the groceries he needs, and he'll continue giving these kids the lessons they need to develop. Changing the coach now could stunt their growth. Let him cook!

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