Freshman Phenom

Volleyballer POY—VYPE’s legend of the fall

Seven Lakes freshman Ally Batenhorst was named the Player of the Year by VYPE. Vype

Originally appeared on

Take a moment. Think back to when you were 15 years old. Not sure about you all, but I can’t say I had too much on my resume at that point.

Enter Ally Batenhorst.

Seven Lakes’ superstar freshman is coming off her first year on the Spartans’ volleyball team—which went all the way to the 6A UIL State title game—and accomplished more this year than most high school athletes do in a career.

Don’t believe it? Let’s take a look.

Batenhorst led Seven Lakes in kills (537) and aces (43) and was second on the team in blocks (53) and digs (288). She was named first-team, all-district (19-6A), Academic All-District, 19-6A’s Most Valuable Attacker, The Greater Houston Volleyball Coaches Association Co-Hitter of the Year and was the only freshman in the entire state to be named to the UIL State All-Tournament team.

Not too bad for a 15-year-old.

“She’s super fun to coach,” Seven Lakes head coach Amy Cataline said. “For as talented as she is, at such a young age, she’s still willing to learn. She’s a team player and a humble leader. I’ve even seen growth in the short time that I’ve had to coach her. She carried the team through some tough moments and got big kills for us in the clutch.”

“Ally makes my job easier,” setter Morgan Janda added. “When I think about it, after she gets those crazy kills, I’m like, she’s only a freshman. That’s insane.”

Batenhorst’s sister, Dani, is a senior on the Seven Lakes team. When she talks about her younger sister, you can feel the family pride radiating.

“She’s going to be amazing. I already know,” Dani said. “Being this good as a freshman, she’s just going to get better every year and be one of the top recruits in the country.”

Having Dani on the team was a big boost for the younger Batenhorst. Not only did it help Ally adjust to the level of play quicker, but as both sisters played the same position, the sister competition helped push each other.

“I was really excited to get started playing with my sister and everybody,” Ally said. “Dani really helped with the transition. It was really fun to be able to play with her. She was always so encouraging and helpful.”

Despite all the honors, the accolades and awards, Ally Batenhorst still has the desire to improve. Complacency has no room in her game.

“I want to get stronger,” Batenhorst said. “I’m obviously tall, so that helps me with everything, but if I can get a stronger arm swing, it’ll improve my game even more.”

If that happens, Katy ISD, Region III and the rest of Texas better watch out.

This article appeared in the December Issue of VYPE Magazine. Pick up your copy at any one of our locations today! 

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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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