CYPRESS — The Cy Ranch Mustang volleyball team ended last season as reigning District 14-6A volleyball champions. Since then, graduation took the top off of the roster and the coaching staff has changed.
The 2018 Mustangs went 29-11 for the season and edged Tomball Memorial for the district title in a hard-fought tie-breaking battle at the Berry Center (click to see our video coverage on YouTube), then defeated the Round Rock Westwood Warriors for a bi-district title in four sets: 26-24, 16-25, 25-23, 26-24. However, they fell to Klein Bearkats in the Area round of the playoffs, 25-18, 23-25, 25-23, 25-23.
Like most teams in Cypress, graduation sliced off the most experienced and seasoned players from the team (not CFISD HS #12 and Cy Park, which will have their first seniors this upcoming school year). However, the Lady Mustangs have a new head coach at the helm.
Earlier this year, Cy Ranch announced that Chrissy Woodward will take over for her predecessor Candice Fuchs for the 2019-2020 school year.
“Our goal as a coaching staff is that you leave Cy Ranch High School as a better woman that is ready for society — ready to take on the challenges of life — that’s what we’re here for,” Woodward said in an interview last week. “The volleyball part is all fun and great, obviously winning would be a better perk. But ultimately, if you leave Cy Ranch High School and you’re ready for the world, and you can make a positive impact on the world, then we’ve done our job.”
Looking at the raw talent coming back, Woodward has her eyes set on strong returning players such as Seerdyn James, Karlee Eaton, Kailey Friedrich and Madeline Villarreal. However, she’s also expecting great things from Brooklynn Gamble, who walks in at 6-foot-2, who moved to the area from Colorado. The new coach was also quick to point out that any athlete can come into the program and find herself in a starting position with enough hard work and effort.
“When you’re new … that’s the good thing about this: Everything is a clean slate,” Woodward added. “I don’t know if you’ve never played middle before. If middle is where you want to be, then get out there and show me what you’ve got.”
A drawback to being new to the program’s entire roster is that she doesn’t have the background to have every potential varsity player penciled into positions. Tack on that the state only allows two days of “two-a-days” before scrimmages start this Saturday.
“We literally have Thursday and we’ve got to make our cuts that evening,” Woodward said. “If the freshman don’t come to freshman camp, then we get to see them for three hours on Thursday morning, and then (my coaching staff) have to figure it out. On Friday we’re practicing with our teams and issuing equipment, and Saturday we scrimmage — Boom. Boom. Boom. You’re in and go!
“For the athletes, that’s pretty intense: You have three hours to show the coaching staff what you can do,” she added. “That’s all we get to see you, and we have to make a decision.”
Regarding intense athletes, it’s apparent that Woodward knows the intensity of the lightning-fast sport. If you were to prick her finger, she’d bleed volleyballs.
As a player she led her Tarkington Lady Longhorn high school team to the state tournament in the 2001 season. Under the old side out rules, her squad defeated Wills Point in two games, 15-10, 19-17. However, 3A powerhouse Wimberley overcame a first game loss and won the state title in three sets, 10-15, 15-3, 15-7.
The Texas Girls Coaches Association’s volleyball committee voted Woodward (maiden name: Engle) onto the All-Tournament team.
“I want to win state,” Woodward said with a verbal focus. “As a coach, that is my expectation for this program. We have not done it here at Cy Ranch; we’ve done very very well, but we have not been to state … and I think it can be done for sure.”
“I feel like (winning a state championship) would put a bandage over the scar,” she said while rubbing her shoulder.
She received a full ride scholarship to play at Sam Houston State University, and would eventually find her way back to work for her old head coach and alma mater for two years. Woodward then spread her wings as New Caney’s head coach at 24, and later as New Caney Porter High School’s head volleyball coach and girls sports coordinator. Then she became a club volleyball coach for six years, but got the itch to get back into the public school sport business and the Cy Ranch position became open.
“I found myself still missing something,” Woodward stated. “My heart was missing something, and I always said that I’d come back when it was the right time for my family. I feel ready to come back.”
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