Lake Creek volleyball looks to continue making waves

Last year, the Lake Creek Lions volleyball program made its biggest splash to date. The hope now is to continue making waves and achieving higher goals.

Taryn Driver came on as head coach in May 2021 and quickly continued building upon the foundation that was in place when the school opened in 2018.

The Lions had just reached the playoffs for the first time the previous fall and the returning players turned it up a notch a year later.

Lake Creek captured its first-ever district championship with an undefeated record, won its first-ever playoff game and finished the year in the regional quarterfinals with a 32-9 record.

Now with a full offseason for the first time, Driver, the Montgomery County co-Coach of the Year in her debut season as a varsity coach, is excited about what’s to come.

“I think it makes a lot of difference,” Driver said about beginning her second season. “In the offseason, that’s where a lot of grit is used and team chemistry is made. They are here and working hard with each other. They accomplish goals with each other. I just think them doing that gets them ready and fired up for the season.”

The Lions lost three seniors from last season to graduation (two of which were starters) and has a lot of talent coming back.

It starts with senior setter Lauren Greene, the District 20-5A Most Valuable Player and Montgomery County Setter of the Year.

“Last year, she had a few different milestones,” Driver said. “She’s a great asset to our offense.”

Greene hit the single season mark of 1,000 assists when she finished with 1,120 assists (9.7 per set). Late in the season, she surpassed the 2,000-career assist mark for her career. Greene also added 297 digs, 73 kills, 74 aces and 32 blocks.

Payton Woods returns for this senior year. An outside hitter, Woods was first team All-District and All-Montgomery County as a junior.

“She’s just a solid all-around player that we rely on front row, back row,” Driver said. “She used to be a defensive specialist/libero, so she is doing really well on defense as well. That’s just a huge asset having her power on the front, but then being able to play all six rotations.”

The Sam Houston State commit totaled 430 kills (4.3 per set), 296 digs, 96 aces and 28 blocks.

Seniors Lauren Hilty and Elizabeth Gunn will command the middle of the net.

“We are looking for our two senior middles to really step up this year,” Driver said. “They’ve been in the program all four years and we are really looking to get then involved in the offense and take a leadership role in that position for their senior year.”

Kinzie Riley, a sophomore, returns after earning the district’s Newcomer of the Year award. She will be setting more this year and will be involved on the right side and outside hitter offensively.

“She’s a strong and she’s a powerhouse,” Driver said. “With it being her sophomore year now and her having that varsity experience from last year, we are relying on her stepping up this year as well.”

After transferring from Grand Oaks last year, senior Lauren Vickery will be looked upon as the libero.

“She has such good awareness and court knowledge,” Driver said. “She just really takes control of the back row.”

The Lions have seven seniors in total with Maggie Sexton (right side) and Rylee McAlexander (right side, middle) also contributing.

Lake Creek also has younger defensive specialist standouts in Kennedy Schramm, a sophomore, and Sarah Caminita, a junior, working the back row.

Junior Ashlynn Kilgore, who Driver praised for her athleticism, returns as an outside hitter.

While Lake Creek ran away to a district title last year, this year will be more challenging after realignment.

Six District 21-5A teams — including Lake Creek — made the playoffs last year.

“It’s a different district and we recognize that and respect that,” Driver said. “Our goal is still the same. We’re looking to win the district and come out on top. We know it’s going to be more competition. We’re looking for that to hopefully fuel us and prepare us for the postseason.”

College Station reached the regional championship last season. A&M Consolidated, Brenham, Magnolia and rival Montgomery also reached the playoffs. Magnolia West and Bryan Rudder are the other two contenders.

“We have a lot of opponents in this district that are very respectable in that they are going to be much tougher games,” Driver said. “I think that will allow us to gain more experience and hopefully, if we are able to continue playing like we are able to, even though it’s a tougher district, that we will be able to come out on top and be ready for the postseason .”

Lake Creek begins the regular season Tuesday at home against Conroe. The Lions then play in the three-day Katy/Cy-Fair Invitational beginning on Thursday.

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