It was a big year for volleyball in East Texas.
Neches (Class 1A) and Beckville (Class 2A) both won state championships.
Neches finished with a 41-4 record and completed its title season with a sweep of Water Valley (26-24, 25-19, 26-24).
It was the first trip to the state volleyball tournament for Neches since 1973.
Head coach Morgan Roberson said she had a feeling the 2018 version of the Lady Tigers could be special.
Neches’ success on the court helped net Roberson All-East Texas Coach of the Year honors.
The All-East Texas Player of the Year is Troup senior Kori Minnix.
The senior middle blocker and outside hitter led the Lady Tigers to 31 wins and a trip to the regional quarterfinals.
“We didn’t expect that at all,” Minnix said. “We went to TCU camp this summer, and we left there just hoping to get into the playoffs. It was definitely the best season during my four years.”
Minnix recorded 629 kills, 75 aces, 280 digs, 50 blocks and 626 receptions this season.
For her career, she had 1,399 kills, 195 aces, 781 digs, 153 blocks and 1,002 receptions. Her kills in a season, kills in a career and aces in a career are all program records. She was the District 16-3A Hitter of the Year and was a first-team TSWA Class 3A first-team All-State selection.
“Kori is a dynamic volleyball player,” Troup head volleyball coach Arden Johnson said. “She is a true outside hitter, but she can hit anywhere. She has a very heavy hand with a quick arm swing, which makes her hard to stop. She is also a great defensive player.
“She is an outstanding, hard-hitting, hard-working, non-stop, will win kind of athlete. She will be ridiculously hard to replace.”
The All East-Texas Newcomer of the Year goes to White Oak freshman Lexi Baker.
Baker burst onto the season in her first year of high school with 299 kills, 51 aces, 29 blocks and 111 digs.
Baker said she thanks Coach Nicole Thorn for putting her in a position to succeed as a freshman. Thorn has since taken a job at Panola College, and Carolee Musick will be taking over the White Oak program.
"Lexi is a tremendous athlete who did some really great things for our team this past season," Thorn said. "Not only is she a perfectionist, but she is a true competitor with a lot of grit and determination who absolutely hates to lose. She's exactly what every coach wants in a player, and I'm truly blessed to have coached her this past season.
"Lexi has definitely worked hard to earn this award, and it proves to everyone that she's a force to be reckoned with even though she's only a freshman. Believe me when I say that she's going to leave a big mark in the Ladyneck program before she graduates."
The All-East Texas Volleyball first team consists of Bullard’s Sara McKeethan, Whitehouse’s Briana Brown, Beckville’s Payton Jones, Neches’ Kacie Kimbrough, Hallsville’s Addison McDermott, Troup’s Natalie Davenport, Van’s Macy Rucker and Carlisle’s Heather Craig.
ALL-EAST TEXAS VOLLEYBALL
MVP: Kori Minnix, Troup, senior
About Minnix: The senior middle blocker/outside hitter recorded 629 kills, 75 aces, 280 digs, 50 blocks and 626 receptions this season. For her career, she had 1,399 kills, 195 aces, 781 digs, 153 blocks and 1,002 receptions. Her kills in a season, kills in a career and aces in a career are all program records. She was the District 16-3A Hitter of the Year and was a first-team TSWA Class 3A first-team All-State selection.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Morgan Roberson, Neches
About Roberson: Led Neches to a 41-4 record and the Class 1A state championship in her third season as the Lady Tigers’ head coach.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: Lexi Baker, White Oak, freshman
About Baker: The freshman outside hitter had 299 kills, 51 aces, 29 blocks and 111 digs.
Sara McKeethan, Bullard, junior
About McKeethan: Despite being injured in non-district play, the junior outside hitter returned to record 229 kills, 178 digs, 21 aces and 30 blocks in 17 matches. She was the District 16-4A Most Valuable Player and earned TSWA, TGCA, TAVC All-State honors.
Briana Brown, Whitehouse, junior
About Brown: The junior outside hitter had 350 kills and 40 blocks. She was the District 16-5A Hitter of the Year. She is committed to the University of Texas at Arlington.
Payton Jones, Beckville, senior
About Jones: The senior outside hitter/defensive specialist had 349 kills, 391 digs, 77 aces, 26 assists and 22 blocks. She led Beckville to the Class 2A state title, and she was the TSWA Class 2A Player of the Year. Jones has committed to Panola College.
Kacie Kimbrough, Neches, sophomore
About Kimbrough: The sophomore middle blocker had 561 kills, 230 digs, 95 blocks and 92 aces. She led Neches to the Class 1A state title, and she was the TSWA Class 1A Player of the Year.
Addison McDermott, Hallsville, senior
About McDermott: The senior middle blocker finished with 388 kills, 194 digs, 81 blocks and 49 aces. She was a TSWA and TGCA All-State selection in Class 5A. She was the District 16-5A MVP. McDermott has signed with Northwestern State University.
Natalie Davenport, Troup, senior
About Davenport: The senior setter had 915 assists, 246 digs, 41 aces, 14 blocks and 109 kills. She broke the school record for season and career assists. She was the District 16-3A MVP.
Macy Rucker, Van, junior
About Rucker: The junior outside hitter/setter had 379 kills, 352 assists, 293 digs, 31 blocks, 352 assists, 293 digs, 31 blocks and 12 aces. She was the District 14-4A Setter of the Year.
Heather Craig, Carlisle, junior
About Craig: The junior outside hitter had 609 kills, 320 digs, 107 aces, 60 blocks and 14 assists. She was the Offensive MVP of District 20-2A.
Skylar Savage, Van
Kenzie Smith, Edgewood
Jennifer Moyer, Lindale
Shelbi Steen, Lindale
Caroline Cruz, Bishop Gorman
Hayley Ned, Trinidad
Bailey Blain, Tyler Lee
Allison Bobbitt, West Rusk
Airikah Pippins, Big Sandy
Brina Kuslak, Lindale
Hannah Trichel, West Rusk
Gabi Moore, New Diana
Madalyn Spears, Quitman
Sierrah Richter, Sabine
Miah Colbert, Longview
Ashlyn Meador, Bullard
All Saints: Olivia Young, Madeline Perkins.
Beckville: Kinley Pepper, Jordan Tondreau, Courtlyn Nail, Miranda Mize, Kinley Rivers.
Big Sandy: Elizabeth Worden, Katelan Brown.
Brook Hill: Annabelle Reed, Anna Hardee, Katherine Mondrik.
Brownsboro: Kallie Hastings, Alexis Rumbo, Rebecca Cawthon, Tori Thomison, Christen Downey, Natalie Gibbons, Megan Robertson, Maci Felts, Allie Cooper.
Bullard: Keili Richmond, Kylie McKeethan, Libby Eitel, Sarah Lewinski.
Carlisle: Emily Pendleton.
Chapel Hill: Maddy Wages.
Cumberland Academy: Rachel DeCampos.
Edgewood: Tabitha Parker, Libby Martin.
Gilmer: Deyton Edwards, Alex Koudelka, Haylee Jordan, Aaleya Morton.
Grace Community: Summer Tennison, Rebekah Sutton, Lillian Morris.
Hallsville: Ashley Jones, Hannah Perry, Gracey Ford.
John Tyler: Lacoriaa Rollins, Symone Morris, Errynn Henderson-Ryder.
Kilgore: Jada Abercrombie, Lauren Bryant, Mackenzie Cavanaugh, Miah Thomas.
Lindale: Skylar Wyllie, Harleigh Thurman, Hannah Knox, London Reue, Kalaya Pierce.
Longview: Morgan Vance, Malaika Pencheon.
Neches: Emily Hill, Lexi Rogers, Nayeli Quistian, Makenzie Hudson.
Quitman: Shelby Hayes, Jentri Jackson, Ava Burroughs.
Sabine: Sarah Davis, Sam Bell, Mikinzi Cantrell, Aubree McCann.
Trinidad: Eryn Airheart, Tori Moody, Kacie White.
Tyler Lee: Annie Thompson.
Union Grove: Madison Webb, Brooke Reeves.
Van: Kennedy Dunn, Grace Santos, Kyle Thomas.
Whitehouse: Sydnie Davis.
White Oak: Alyssa Hall, Macy Weeks, Allison Patak.