Bobcats, Mustangs have eyes set on playoffs as season winds down, others still in the hunt
Cy-Fair volleyball coach Donna Benotti likes what she see so far this season.
The Bobcats currently sit in first place atop District 17-6A with a couple of weeks remaining in the regular season.
Cy-Fair and Memorial reached the postseason last year in Disrict 15-6A and were the favorites to claim the title this season in the new disrict.
“I knew going into this season we had some strong returners,” Benotti said. “I knew we were positioned well with our outsides.”
There’s outsider hitter Beckah Portalatin, last year’s 17-6A Newcomer of the Year, Lauryn Bourne, libero Kara Spice, defensive specialist Reagan Warth and setter Elyse Buras.
While seven CFISD schools joined Tomball Memorial and Bryan to create District 14-6A, the remaining five Cy Fair schools and Spring Branch ISD combined to create the other.
Cy-Fair, Cy Creek, Cy Ridge, Cy Falls, Jersey Village, Memorial, Northbrook, Spring Woods and Stratford joined 17-6A in Region III.
In second and third place in 17-6A are Memorial and Stratford. However, with two games out of first place, both teams will have to step up in order to catch up to a Cy-Fair squad that’s fast and plays aggressive on defense.
“They don’t let many balls touch the floor,” Benotti said. “This is truly the best defensive team I have ever coached. Our setter is such a key to our team’s success.”
Cy-Fair swept Memorial during the regular season, and beat Stratford back in September with a rematch set for Oct. 12.
Four teams are attempting to claim final spot in 17-6A. Three teams out of Cy Creek, Cy Ridge, Cy Falls and Jersey Village will be disappointed in missing out. The Cougars and Rams have the upper hand.
The key to the Bobcats’ success has been getting contributions from all of the players.
“We play as a true team,” Benotti said. “We are a small team but together play big.”
However, there were some concerns in the middle.
“I had a wonderful surprise with freshman athlete Adura Sogbesan and junior Sophie Scott,” Benotti. “They sealed up the middle positions and zipped the seams for us allowing our defense to shine.”
The routine will not change for the Bobcats as the postseason gets closer.
“Our message remains the same we focus on our current opponent and focus on the things we can control,” Benotti said. “We will work hard every day and prepare for every game.”
Mustangs show strength
In 14-6A, Cy Ranch, Tomball Memorial, Langham Creek and Bryan are in the top four and are all separated by just two games.
All four teams are expected to make the postseason. The only uncertainty is the order they’ll finish. Cy Ranch and Tomball Memorial have been in the top two for most of the season.
“Before the season started I knew there would definitely be a different learning curve than what we have had in the previous years,” Cy Ranch head coach Candice Fuchs said
Behind Cy Ranch, Tomball Memorial, Langham Creek and Bryan sits Cy Woods, Bridgeland and Cy Springs hoping for one of the top four teams to slip up. Cy Woods or Bridgeland have the better chance of the three to make it if that happens. Cy Lakes and Cy Park are building for the future.
Tomball Memorial’s crosstown rival Tomball is also making noise in District 20-5A. They’re currently in second place behind undefeated Kingwood Park.
Cy Ranch was projected by many to win the 14-6A title due to senior outside hitter Peyton DeBello, Mississippi State commit, Michelle Klein, Arkansas State commit, defensive specialist Sabrina Sustala, Texas A&M commit and Elayne Grisbee, UNC Greensboro commit.
Fuchs’ confidence in the team was still high. They’ve only lost to Tomball Memorial and Bridgeland.
“I knew that our new additions once acclimated would be able to contribute and help us to be a well-rounded unit,” Fuchs said. “As long as we took every experience as an opportunity I knew we could really blossom and hit our stride when it matters most.”
Heading into the final stretch of the regular season, Fuchs has been very happy with the progression of the Mustangs.
They’ve had two program records broken this season. Sustala broke the record for number of digs in a single match against College Park with 35 digs and DeBello broke the record for number of aces in a single match against Cy Creek with 11 aces.
“I am easily pleased, but never satisfied and I think the girls have bought into this mindset as well,” Fuchs said. “We refuse to become stagnant in our growth.”