Volleyball: Lady Texans set for 2011
The Sam Rayburn volleyball team is coming off its best season in more than a decade.
Keeping up that pace won't be easy.
With a squad heavy on senior leadership, the Lady Texans more than doubled their win total from the previous year and ended a 12-year postseason drought by finishing in third place in District 22-5A.
"We were just terribly excited about it," said long-time coach Debbie Powell, who's fast approaching her 30th season as Rayburn.
"It was a great year, kids worked hard, and we progressed and got better in every game, so it worked out really well for us."
The Lady Texans ended up falling in the first round of the playoffs. They were swept by North Shore in three sets — but not because they weren't well-prepared and hungry.
They simply came up short.
"We gave everything that we had," Powell said.
Then they graduated.
The team graduated eight players, including middle blockers Kylah Dias and Jocelyn Gamino, setter Erica Owens, libero Judith Hernandez and outside hitter Felise Otabar, and returns just one letterman.
Dias, a three-year varsity player, was the only one to move on to the college level. She's playing at St. Thomas.
"From her freshman year I never doubted that she was going to play college," Powell said.
That leaves senior outside hitter Stephanie Zuniga as the only returning varsity player. The Lady Texans will go to her a lot, if only because Powell's not sure where else she'll turn at this point.
"She's going to be very important," Powell said. "She just has a good, solid outside hit, and she gets us points off it.
"She also has a very good serve."
Powell has three newcomers in mind as key players: seniors OH Jasmin Rodriguez and MB Arcely Gomez, both off the junior varsity team, and sophomore Miriah Armelin, who's up from the freshman squad.
Rodriguez will start the season as the other outside with Zuniga. Beyond that, the pieces still are coming together.
"Each one of these players is very young, they don't have a lot of varsity experience, and the bottom line is that they're going to have to mature really fast," Powell said.
"They're going to have to step up and compete on the varsity level for us, and really quick."
The Lady Texans host Baytown Sterling at 6:30 p.m. on Friday and they're at the Gabby Romero tournament next weekend.
The goal right now is just to improve a little every match, and try to be ready for district.
"That's, right now, what we're working for," Powell said.
South Belt swimmers medal
The South Belt All-Stars swim team earned a number of medals and qualified several swimmers for state at the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation's Region 14 championship at Mayde Creek.
Pasadena Memorial sophomore Haley Chapman claimed gold medals in the 100-yard individual medley and the 200 freestyle, and bronze in the 50 free, in the girls' 13-14 age group.
In the girls' 15-17 division, SBAS swimmers took the top three spots in the 100 free, with Sam Rayburn junior Sheila Hernandez placing first, followed by Memorial's Sarah Freshour and Erin Graham.
Graham also won gold in the 200 free, Hernandez took gold in the 50 backstroke and silver in the 100 IM, and Freshour won the 50 free.
On the boys side, Rayburn's Nicholas Holloway won the 50 breaststroke and placed second in the 100 IM in the 15-17 age group. Rayburn teammate Erick Hernandez earned gold in the 100 free.
The South Belt swimmers also claimed five gold and one silver medal in the relays.
Rice honoring military
The Rice athletic department and Gallery Furniture are teaming up to allow members of the military and first responders who serve locally to enjoy the 100th season of Rice football free of charge.
Members of all branches of the military, along with members of fire, police and rescue squads, will be able to sign up for tickets for themselves and immediate family by submitting a request online or calling 713-522-OWLS, extension 6957.
Tickets can be picked up in advance at the Tudor Fieldhouse box office or on game day at Rice Stadium. Program participants must provide proof of affiliation when picking up their tickets.
"Thanks to the generosity of Gallery Furniture and Jim McIngvale, we are able to honor these individuals throughout the season," Rice Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan said. "We understand the sacrifices they make to protect our great country and its freedom, and we are proud to recognize them on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and honor them all season through this program."
The program will kick off with an on-field ceremony prior to the Owls' home opener against Purdue on Sept. 10 as part of national recognition of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America.
Rice opens its 100th season of college football on Sept. 3 when it travels to Austin to face the Texas Longhorns.
Local Advertising by PaperG