Before a partisan crowd at the Merrill Center in Katy, the Seven Lakes Spartans advanced to the Class 6A state finals for the second time in four years. They beat San Antonio Reagan 25-16, 25-16, 21-25, 24-26 and 15-12.
The first time the Spartans reached the finals back in 2017 they were led senior Dani Batenhorst and a gawky freshman… Ally Batenhorst.
Batenhorst is now a senior, a Nebraska-signee and possibly one of the best players in the country. She is set by her little sister Casey, making the Batenhorsts the First Family of Seven Lakes to say the least.
Did we mention, Ally Batenhorst set a UIL State Tournament record 36 kills in an instant classic?
Seven Lakes jumped out to a 2-0 set lead before Reagan came rattling back to force a fifth set.
"That was super intense," Ally Batenhorst said. "It was so competitive and we had to work for every point. We wanted it so badly and it was just our time.
"Going to state is so special," she said. "Going both times with my sisters, once as a freshman and to close out my senior season, it's just surreal."
Casey Batenhorst quarterbacked her team with pinpoint assists and some timely blocks.
"In the huddle before that first set, Ally and I said let's play our game and play with energy. It came down to execution and heart," Casey said.
During the middle of the season, Seven Lakes was forced to quarantine for three weeks due to a Covid 19 issue, which set the Spartans back.
"I just kept telling them that this was all going to be worth it and this was our story," coach Amy Cataline said. "Hopefully, we would have a happy ending. This is just part of our novel."
Another chapter in the novel was the fact that starter Peyton Sykes went out with a match-ending ankle injury and Cataline inserted junior Mia Blum, the daughter of former Major League Baseball player Geoff Blum. She made some big plays in a substitute role.
The Rattlers were led by Nya Anderson (Miami) and a stingy defense.