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Bearkats just about set for playoffs as season comes to a close, Tigers trying to hang on

October 8, 2018

As the high school volleyball seasons heads into its playoff run, Klein is in a familiar place, near the the top of their league.

A season ago, Klein went 29-4 a year ago, going unbeaten 14-0 in the old District 15-6A, as they finished as regional semifinalists.

With four college prospects returning this season, the Bearkats are in a new league with some of the state’s top-ranked programs, including The Woodlands.

The Bearkats currently sit in second place in the new District 15-6A behind unbeaten The Woodlands. Both teams have been in the top two for the most of the season.

“We are working to becoming better each day both strategically and mentally,” Klein coach Kate Zora said.

The battle for the top four spots has been tough. Some good teams were bound to might miss out.

The new District15-6A brought with it four regional semifinalists from a year ago in Klein, Klein Oak, College Park and The Woodlands.

Klein Collins,Oak Ridge College Park and Klein Oak appear to be battling for the last two playoff spots. Klein Cain and Klein Forest are building for the future.

Klein has a mixture of old leadership, five seniors that have been with the group since they were sophomores and young talent in two freshmen and four sophomores.

The Bearkats returned Ashlen Jennings, Baylee Laskoskie, Nena Mbonu and Devan Taylor.

“They push one another to elevate their game,” Zora said. “This group is special because they are sisters on and off the court to one another and can hold one another accountable on the court and off with respect.”

Klein relies on ball control, defense and attacking with speed. Zora wants to make sure they’re playing their best volleyball in November.

“We are going to continue to keep working hard to be our best when we play our last game,” Zora said.

Tigers embracing challenge

Klein Collins and Klein Oak finished in the top four in last year. Both have done a good job of keeping up with the competition.

Team culture is something Klein Collins has been focusing on throughout the regular season. As a result, they’ve been in the top four for most of the season.

“I’m so proud of my girls,” Klein Collins head coach Amanda McMeans said. “They knew what district play was going to be like and they were hungry for the challenge.”

The addition of Conroe ISD was a huge adjustment for the Tigers, but a needed one.

“Each year is special and unique but what sets this year apart from the rest is the competition of every single district opponent and the girls rising to the stage,” McMeans said. “While we have lost some tough games, we made those teams earn it.”

McMeans knew the squad had talent and strong players but to be able to bring it every single game day is another thing.

The Tigers practice and act like champions day in and out. Expectations are always high and the team is ready to secure a playoff spot in one of the toughest 6A districts.

“I have been very proud of all 13 players and their contributions to this season so far,” McMeans said.

The competitiveness of senior Sammy Normand is unlike anyone McMeans has ever coached.

“There’s not a tougher player or a more competitive one in my books,” McMeans said. “I have enjoyed all our four years together.”

McMeans admits that it will take all 13 players and the coaches in order to accomplish their goal.

“It’s hard work and sometimes humbling experience,” McMeans said. “Senior Kayla Carter has bought in and takes pride in our team dynamics. It has led to senior outside hitter Sammy Normand and junior Erin Wyatt to make the big plays.

“With young middles in junior Emma McWhorter and sophomore Sarah Rogers and a sophomore six rotation setter in Mekaila Aupiu, the leadership has been wonderful for our future.”

Volleyball is a game of errors and McMeans recognizes that they can’t make errors with Klein or Conroe ISD.

“I am very proud to compete against all our Klein ISD schools and even more proud to be a KCTiger,” McMeans said.

Klein ISD’s crosstown district rival Spring ISD is also making noise. Spring was viewed by many as the squad to beat in District 16-6A entering the 2018 season.

The undefeated Lions are currently first in the district with almost a four-game advantage. Westfield is also trying to crack the top four and clinch a playoff spot.

alvaro.montano@chron.com

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