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Klein Collins makes history; beats Round Rock in Area round

Klein Collins volleyball head coach Amanda McMeans-Weese admits that back in her playing days, she played on a really good East Texas Baptist University volleyball team but "I didn't see much playing time because I played behind a 'stud' player.”

It's that kind of unselfishness that McMeans-Weese, in her eighth year as the head coach at Klein Collins, has brought to the Tigers' program.

The Tigers, who earned fourth place in one of the state's toughest districts (15-6A), played unselfishly Thursday (Nov. 1) and clinched their program's first-ever Area Round win as they upended Round Rock High School in four sets (15-25, 25-14, 25-20, 25-20).

The win propels the Tigers into the program's first-ever Regional Quarterfinal matchup; they await the winner of tonight's match between The Woodlands and Tomball Memorial for their next opponent. Klein Collins High School opened back in 2001.

"First time ever in the school's history (to win the Area Round match)," McMeans-Weese said, beaming a big smile after the match. "We couldn't have done it with a better group of girls this year. It feels absolutely wonderful. These girls did a great job putting into action what we needed tonight; we've worked hard in (eight) years to get the program (to this point). I'm proud just to be here and be a Klein Collins Tiger.”

It wasn't easy to be a Tiger early on as Diane Watson's Lady Dragons came out firing on all cylinders in Set 1, winning by a 25-15 margin. Round Rock's big hitters - junior Lauren Malone (who finished with 6 kills on the night), junior Yasmina Kadich (11 kills and two solo blocks) and junior Grace Adams (7 kills) - hit through the block of Klein Collins. Plus, the Tigers had four unforced errors early in the set and three more towards the end.

But as good coaching staffs do, McMeans-Weese and her staff made adjustments - especially on the blocking side. The Tigers' block was stouter than The Great Wall of China; they finished with an incredible 14 blocks as a team, headed up by junior middle Emma McWhorter, who stonewalled her way to 6 solo blocks and 4 more block-assists.

"We talked about starting (to put up blocks) on their outside hitters; that's where most of their power was coming from," McMeans-Weese revealed. "I'm glad all four of my outside hitters did a good job of moving out and taking care of their hitter first, then going in and helping defense Round Rock's Yasmina Kadich; she was amazing for them.”

While the Tigers' defense was doing its job, the Klein Collins offense was warming up. Junior outside Erin Whatt proved too much for the Round Rock defense, slamming home 20 kills in an outstanding performance; she also had two block-assists and two aces. Senior Sammy Normand picked her spots and finished with eight kills (along with three block-assists); McWhorter chipped in five kills while sophomore setter chipped in with four kills and adding 37 assists, two aces and two block-assists to her totals.

Rounding out the stats for Klein Collins: sophomore Sarah Rogers (four block-assists, two kills); Audri Crawford (three block-assists and one kill).

For Round Rock, junior Kaylee Linton slammed home nine kills, all of them after the first set; junior Emma Young, all four of her kills coming in the fourth set; senior Brooklyn Johnson, with two aces; and Joley Plummer, several digs and one ace.

"We did a great job blocking early but it kind of disappeared later," Watson said about her Lady Dragons. "Klein Collins made some great adjustments after the first set. We've seen tape, we know what we want to do, now we have to go out and execute the game plan. To me, it's all about execution.

"I loved having the kids out there later in the match that we had out there, they were all underclassmen and hopefully they'll learn from this experience and take that into next year."

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