Tag: Seven Lakes High School

The youngest of star sisters, Seven Lakes senior and SMU commit Casey Batenhorst sets her way

August 6, 2019: Seven Lakes Casey Batenhorst (5) sets Seven Lakes Gabby Collins (2) up for a shot during the high school volleyball game between Seven Lakes and Clear Creek at Seven Lakes High School in Katy Tx. (PHOTO BY MARK GOODMAN)


As the youngest daughter, Casey Batenhorst felt the pressure to live up to the volleyball greatness of her two older sisters.

Dani Batenhorst, the oldest, is a redshirt sophomore outside hitter at Gonzaga University. Ally, the middle sister, is a senior outside hitter for Seven Lakes and a Nebraska verbal commit. So, Casey, a junior setter for Seven Lakes, not only felt the need to be successful like her sisters, she wanted it for herself as well.

“It was difficult,” said Casey, 16. “I felt since they were really good, then I needed to be, too, to finish the family tradition, in a sense. It was stressful, but I took it well. I worked really hard, because I knew I wanted to be a part of that and go to a school for volleyball like them.”

Batenhorst can relax easier these days after verbally committing to play volleyball at SMU on Sept. 10. Batenhorst averaged 9.2 assists per set in her first full season as the starting setter for the Spartans last season to go with a 34.4 kill percentage.

Playing a different position than her older sisters allowed Batenhorst to set her own path.

“Definitely, because no one could compare me to them,” Batenhorst said. “As a setter, and them two both being outsides, was great for me. People saw me as my own player.”

Batenhorst chose SMU mostly because of its proximity to home, among other key reasons.

Some of her friends are also going to college around the area. She also noted the school’s rigorous academics and the “amazing” volleyball program and its coaches.

“It just checked off everything I wanted in a school,” said Batenhorst, who plans to study international business.

Katy Tx. Sept 17, 2019: Cinco Ranch’s Madalyn O’Brien (20) and Seven Lakes Casey Batenhorst (5) go up for the ball during a high school volleyball game between Cinco Ranch and Seven Lakes a SLHS. (PHOTO BY MARK GOODMAN)

The Batenhorst sisters were seemingly born to play volleyball. They are tall, long and athletic. Dani stands 6-foot-1, Ally 6-4, and Casey 6-1.

Growing up, Batenhorst figured she’d be an outside hitter like her sisters. She never expected to be a setter.

“I was surprised by that, too,” Batenhorst said. “When I was little, I thought setting was fun, but I never really thought much else about it.”

But when Batenhorst was playing club volleyball at 12 years old, her coach needed a setter, so she set some balls for him.

“I don’t know if (the balls) were good or not, but he made me a setter and I just stuck with that my entire career,” she said.

Now she can’t imagine playing any other position on the floor.

“I love everything about it,” Batenhorst said. “People call it the quarterback of the team and it’s really interesting. You study the other side of the court, see what the matchups are, know who’s on that game, and you have to be focused every single play. I think it’s fun to run an offense and be in control of the ball, run different plays and see the holes. The dynamic is super fun.”

Batenhorst has only been setting for five years, so she’s still growing into the role. She said she’s improved the most at knowing where middle blockers are during any given set and determining the height of the balls to place for her hitters. She’s better at running a faster offense.

“I used to set a pretty high ball,” Batenhorst said, laughing.

She acknowledges there is still room to improve. Batenhorst wants to get better deciphering each hitter and making it easier for them to attack off her sets. She obsesses over delivering the perfect ball, per each hitter’s wants and standards.

She wants to work on picking up tips more as well as executing deep dumps, which is hitting balls from the front row, but deeper on the court.

This 2020 season will be Batenhorst’s last playing with Ally, something she does not take for granted.

Casey and Ally Batenhorst practicing in July 2020. Casey is in the gray shirt. Video by Kurt Batenhorst.

“Having a sister on the team, especially me as a setter and her being an outside (hitter), there needs to be a lot of communication because the hitter dictates what they want,” Batenhorst said. “Since we’re family, it’s a lot easier for her to tell me. We just have that connection to where, no matter what, she won’t get mad and I won’t get mad. It just works well. Throughout the years, she hasn’t had to tell me as much because I’ve learned her as a player. I absolutely love playing with her. Setting her and seeing her get a kill is the best thing for me.”

Setting Ally has made Batenhorst a better player.

“She needs a faster ball, but it can’t be low because she’s so tall,” Batenhorst said. “So, I have to set it almost past the pin so she can cut it off at a certain point. It’s a farther ball, but higher. She works well with that, and she’s really good with 3s (balls that are more inside; a quicker, faster ball so the hitter can hit to the line and have more options), and 2s (balls to the outside, far to the pin), too, which I feel are underrated because it’s harder to block a 2. I love when she calls that, and I can set it lower and faster and she comes in super quick.”

Batenhorst credits both high school volleyball and club volleyball for her success.

Under revered coach Amy Cataline at Seven Lakes, Batenhorst plays six rotations and the front row as well as the back row, something that is appealing to college coaches when they look for setters. In club ball, though she mostly only plays from the back row, the exposure is significant, as college coaches are more likely to attend those showcases than high school games.

“Coach Cataline is an amazing coach and was a setter herself, so she really helps me through that aspect,” Batenhorst said. “Being able to play six rotations and set from the front row, I think that will help me for college. A lot of colleges want setters that play (that way), so I’ve been able to learn blocking and everything else. For club ball, the coaches are great, and they’re all so invested in us with great connections to colleges.”

The Batenhorst sisters started their athletic careers playing basketball up until middle school. They started playing with the Katy Volleyball Academy late during their elementary years.

Dani was a late bloomer to the club volleyball scene, starting her freshman year. Ally started club volleyball during the fifth grade, Casey during the sixth grade.

“We all love the team aspect of volleyball,” Batenhorst said. “It’s different than any other sport, in my opinion. You’re so much closer and there’s such like a family aspect to it. The game is fast-paced, which is super fun, and there are so many techniques and dynamics to the sport that you can always learn more. There’s never a dull moment with volleyball.”

Tompkins girls, Seven Lakes boys headline all-district soccer honors

Katy Tx. Jan. 11, 2020: Tompkins Skylar Parker (22) takes a shot at the goal during the I-10 Soccer Shootout in a match between Tompkins vs McAllen at Legacy Stadium in Katy. (Photo by Mark Goodman)

BY DENNIS SILVA II | densilva2@gmail.com

The 2020 high school soccer seasons were one many lost because of the global pandemic. Due to precautions for the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, the season was initially postponed in March before the UIL canceled all remaining spring sports seasons in April.

Still, the soccer seasons, boys’ and girls’, were on the brink of the playoffs, with just two more nights of district play remaining. With that, a lot was determined about who were the best players and which teams were the best through district play, which allowed for all-district picks to still be made by District 19-6A’s coaches.

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DCTF ranks Katy High 18th on 2020 Texas HS football program rankings

Humble, Tx. Sept 8, 2019: Katy’s head coach Gary Joseph is all smiles after a win in a game with Atascocita at Turner Stadium. (Photo by Mark Goodman)


Dave Campbell’s Texas Football ranks Katy High in a tie for 18th overall on its 2020 Texas high school football program rankings released this weekend.

DCTF, in conjunction with PigskinPrep.com’s Jerry Forrest, ranked every high school football program based on relative strength over the course of the last six seasons.

Why six? As DCTF explains: “A six-year sample provides a steady measure of a program as opposed to an individual squad — six years represents one-and-a-half graduation cycles, mitigating the impact of a single transcendent class of athletes. In short: good programs have great teams one or two years, but great programs have great teams spread across a larger swath of time, like six years.”

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Katy ISD releases 2020 varsity football schedules

Katy ISD’s composite 2020 varsity football schedule, along with Jordan High’s inaugural sub-varsity schedule.

BY DENNIS SILVA II | densilva2@gmail.com

During uncertain times hungry for any semblance of normalcy due to a global pandemic, some came last week when Katy ISD released its composite varsity football schedules for the 2020 season.

The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, means nothing is sure for the upcoming high school football season. But the UIL and its districts are making any and all plans for when the 2020-2021 school year begins.

The  biennial realignment in February brought little significant change for Katy ISD athletics for the next two school years.

Cinco Ranch, Katy, Mayde Creek, Morton Ranch, Seven Lakes, Taylor and Tompkins will compete in District 19-6A, which has been the norm. Paetow moves up to Class 5A, Division I as its enrollment number is on the brink of Class 6A after just three years of existence. Jordan High, the district’s ninth high school scheduled to open in August to freshmen and sophomores only, will compete in Class 5A, Division II, but won’t have varsity football until 2022. Until then, the Warriors’ football schedule will be a makeshift rendition of mixing and matching opponents.

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Seven Lakes baseball parents, supporters award players unique ‘Senior Night’

(Photo by Dennis Silva II)

BY DENNIS SILVA II | densilva2@gmail.com

At around 4:30 on a hot Friday, May 1, afternoon, more than 30 vehicles were parked at Stanley Elementary. Parents, junior varsity players and other supporters of the Seven Lakes High baseball program started decorating their cars, trucks and jeeps with balloons, ribbons, self-made congratulatory signs and player banners.

On what was supposed to be “Senior Night” for the 16 Spartan seniors at their last regular season home game, a surprise drive-by organized by loved ones instead took place. Precautions for the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, forced the UIL to cancel its remaining spring sports season, including high school baseball, last month.

The Spartans’ senior players never got a chance to play their last home baseball game and enjoy their “Senior Night,” when seniors and their parents are recognized by coach J.R. Voyles prior to the game for their contributions to a program that is, year in and year out, one of the finest in the region.

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Katy native, Dynamo GK Nelson waiting out COVID-19

Katy native and Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Michael Nelson is shown playing for Rio Grande Valley FC, the Dynamo’s United Soccer League affiliate club.

By DENNIS SILVA II | densilva2@gmail.com

As a third-year player for Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo, Michael Nelson is used to the best of the best in the sport, particularly when it applies to training.

But Nelson, a Katy native and former Seven Lakes High star, had to dive deep into his creativity recently to come up with ways to exercise.

“I have a 60-pound dog, so he was a pretty good weight for some lower-body exercises, some squats,” Nelson said. “The first week or two were pretty interesting.”

Nelson is supposed to be with the Dynamo, weeks into the 2020 season. Instead, because of MLS suspending matches indefinitely as of March 19 because of precautions for the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, the 25-year-old backup goalkeeper is stuck at home. The Dynamo’s season was abruptly halted after two games because of the crisis and Nelson is now limiting activity and movement due to social distancing.

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