By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
Superlative honors for the 2019 KBEC Sports All-Ellis County volleyball teams were announced live on-air Monday night, Dec. 9.
The announcement highlights individual accomplishments on and off the court. All superlative honorees will be presented with a commemorative bobblehead. For more information on the KBEC Sports All-Ellis County volleyball selection process, check out this link.
Team of the Year
Ovilla Christian School
Why they won: The Ovilla Christian Lady Eagles won their second consecutive TAPPS 2A state championship this past fall to earn the 2019 KBEC Sports All-Ellis County Team of the Year honor.
The Lady Eagles defeated Austin Waldorf in the state title match (25-21, 25-13, 25-20) and finished the season with a 31-7-5 record. They won their final 19 matches, dating back to Aug. 27, and only dropped six sets over that span.
This season was the first under first-year head coach Mollie McBride, a 2014 Midlothian High graduate and 2019 alumna of Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie.
The back-to-back state championships for Ovilla Christian mark the first-ever such instance in Ellis County, while the 2018 title was the first since Red Oak won a 4A state title in 2002.
Newcomer of the Year
Why she won: Kate Morgan quickly proved herself as a six-rotation player this season for the Waxahachie Lady Indians and earned the 2019 KBEC Sports All-Ellis County Newcomer of the Year honor despite a stacked field of uberly qualified student-athletes.
Morgan, a junior, finished second on the team in kills (308), digs (404) and serves received (710). She was also third on the team with 63 aces and 278 service points with an 89.8% serve percentage.
She helped the Lady Indians to a 39-13 overall record, District 7-6A co-championship and an area championship appearance against eventual state champion Byron Nelson.
Morgan did appear in 64 sets during her sophomore year; however, those appearances were primarily reserved for service duties. She recorded just nine kills, one block and 54 digs in 2018.
Offensive Player of the Year
Midlothian Heritage, senior
Why she won: Kelsey Carpenter capped her stellar Midlothian Heritage career by helping the Jaguars to a 4A regional championship for a second consecutive season. She earned the designation as the 2019 KBEC Sports All-Ellis County Offensive Player of the Year in the process.
Carpenter reached a milestone this season not often achieved over a high school career by joining the 1,000-kill, 1,000-assist club.
The 6-foot-2 senior finished her Heritage career with 1,504 kills (.289-hitting percentage) and 1,183 assists.
Carpenter ultimately led the Jaguars in 2019 with 607 kills (.254-hitting percentage), while also finishing second on the team in digs (311) and assists (590), third in aces (61) and fourth in blocks (65).
Midlothian Heritage finished the season with a 28-19-1 record, which is a bit misleading as the Jaguars faced well over one dozen 5A and 6A programs during the non-district slate of their schedule.
Carpenter, who helped the Jaguars reach the 4A state semifinals in 2018, has already signed her national letter of intent to continue her playing career at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Defensive Player of the Year
Why she won: It’s no secret that the Waxahachie Lady Indians lacked height across the front row this season. That, in turn, often left the back row exposed against some of the tallest and highest-flying teams in Class 6A.
But even facing that disadvantage, Bailey Whitehead regularly forced opposing teams to attack away from where she was positioned on the court. Those efforts and her skill led to the Lady Indians’ libero being named the 2019 KBEC Sports All-Ellis County Defensive Player of the Year.
Whitehead recorded a team-high 708 digs at a 4.9 dig-per-set clip to help the Lady Indians to a 39-13 overall record, District 7-6A co-championship and an area championship appearance against eventual state champion Byron Nelson.
She also recorded 154 assists, 57 aces and a team-best 332 service points, all while breaking a team-high 907 serves with just 25 errors.
Whitehead, more affectionally known as “Boo” among her teammates and coaches, has already signed her national letter of intent to play collegiately at Dallas Baptist University.
Most Valuable Player
Red Oak, senior
Why she won: Hailey Hunt led the Red Oak Lady Hawks to a 35-11 record, undefeated District 14-5A championship and 5A regional semifinal appearances this season.
Hunt accounted for an Ellis County-best 642 kills on the season with an astounding .317-hitting percentage and 4.6 kills-per-set. She also finished second on the team with 64 aces, 317 service points, 579 digs and 523 serves received. She was third in blocks (75).
The four-year varsity starter finished her Red Oak career with 1,559 kills (.273-hitting percentage), 386 total blocks and 1,190 digs.
Hunt helped the Lady Hawks to an impressive 131-45 record over her four-year varsity career — which averages out to a record of about 33-11 each season.
She is also a Hawk Scholar that could’ve graduated with an associate’s degree in May. Instead, she’ll depart from Red Oak for Nacogdoches and Stephen F. Austin University in January.
In taking a little editorial freedom, Hailey has been one of the more impressive student-athletes I’ve ever watched and the first volleyball player to graduate early in order to join a collegiate program.
Hailey is a leader on the court, so much so that she’s often coaching a teammate while head coach Hope Porter has her attention on another.
She has also always been quick to pass praise, showing a humbleness that is not often learned or practiced. Ask her for stats and she’ll tell you that those are not near as important as team success.
When we spoke earlier this season about why it was important to commit to SFA early and end her recruiting process, Hailey responded — without thought — that she knew the early commitment would allow for her to help teammates through the recruitment process and the upcoming season.
The response was genuine and a perfect representation of the program’s team-before-me mentality.
Whether on the court, in the classroom or post-playing career, Hailey is destined for greatness.
Coach of the Year
Why she won: The Red Oak Lady Hawks were rarely the tallest team on the court this season, but they were quite often the most fundamentally sound — a trait that characterizes any team led by head coach Hope Porter.
Under her tutelage, the Lady Hawks finished the season with a 35-11 record, undefeated District 14-5A championship and 5A regional semifinal appearances.
This season marked the fifth 30-win season over an 11-year career for Porter, which includes 32-or-more wins in three of the past four seasons and eight seasons of at least 27 victories.
Porter is in her 24th year as a coach within Red Oak ISD, having previously served as a varsity assistant under longtime head coach Arthur Standfield.
That tandem coached the Lady Hawks to two of the program’s three state championships (1995, 2002). Stanfield was also the head coach for the 1992 state championship.
To view the 2019 All-Ellis County first-team, second-team and honorable mention lists, click here. To listen to the live on-air announcements, interviews and more during Monday’s episode of “The Press Box,” click here. Congratulations to all recipients!
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith