White Oak’s Abbey Bybel was a professed gym rat as a youngster while watching older sister, Emily play. Unfortunately, that was all she could do, watch, until finally joining a club team in sixth grade.
“I would pass on the wall to myself, set, (to myself); every time I would find a ball, I would pick it up and play with it,” Bybel said.
When Emily earned all-state and All-East Texas honors leading White Oak to a state-tournament appearance as a senior in 2007, Bybel was just finishing middle school and anxious to follow in her sister’s footsteps.
She did that and more.
Bybel helped lead the Lady Necks to a state championship in 2010, earning her second-consecutive All-ET MVP honor in the process. But with six players graduating from White Oak’s 10-team roster, the expectations weren’t as high for Bybel and Co. this year.
Bybel proved otherwise, finishing with a career-best season of 731 kills to go along with 87 blocks, 83 service aces and 323 digs. White Oak reached the state tournament for a third-consecutive season and Bybel was the unanimous choice again by the Tyler Courier-Times— Telegraph staff to be the 2011 All-East Texas Volleyball MVP.
“It’s very exciting to get it three years in a row,” said Bybel, who signed a volleyball scholarship to SMU. “It’s almost bittersweet as my senior year.”
Bybel was the state tournament MVP in 2010, finishing that season with 507 kills, 52 aces, 146 blocks and 164 digs. She provided 442 kills, 184 blocks, 133 digs and 23 aces in her first All-ET MVP season.
“Hitting always came natural to me, but I like being a leader,” Bybel said. “No one thought we would be going back to state at all. We were really close, got a long in school and when you put us all together (on the court) it just clicked.”
An illness forced Bybel to miss all of the two-a-day practices and White Oak’s season opener, a narrow 3-2 victory over Robert E. Lee.
“It was hard sitting on the sidelines and watching, especially it being my senior year,” Bybel said.
In the Lady Necks second match, Bybel showed what White Oak was missing, posting a team-high eight kills in a win over Troup.
White Oak lost only three matches while progressing to the state semifinals. The Lady Necks topped New Diana 3-2 to put themselves in position for a second-straight state title, but it was not to be, falling 3-1 to Nocona. White Oak completed its season with a 42-4 record.
Now Bybel looks to the future and playing for the SMU Lady Mustangs.
“I am very excited and can’t wait to go,” Bybel said. “Time flies. I know everyone says that, but it really does, but I am ready to move on and start the new chapter in my life.”
2011 All-East Texas Volleyball Team
Player of the Year: Abbey Bybel, Sr., White Oak
Newcomer of the Year: Sabrah Shipman, So., Big Sandy
Coach of the Year: Diann Preston, East Texas Christian Academy
Latrice Greenhouse, Sr., Arp: 411 kills, 307 digs
Katrina Kastmo, Jr., All Saints: 513 kills, 124 blocks
Torie Talkington, Sr., Rains: 509 kills, 314 digs
Mallory Kuechle, Jr., Tyler Lee: 382 kills, 329 digs
Abby Mackey, Jr., Overton: 626 kills, 332 digs
Darby Graff, Sr., Hallsville: 882 kills, 202 blocks
Whitney Ford, Sr., Pine Tree
Kaci Jackson, Jr., Hallsville
Shawnta Knox, Jr., Cayuga
Jennifer McGowen, Sr., John Tyler
Rilee Miller, Jr., Grace Community
Brinklee Noll, Sr., White Oak
Kalloway Hudson, Sr., Tyler Lee
Dorothy Swanson, Jr., White Oak
Savannah Voelzke, Jr., Spring Hill
Maddie Wood, Jr., Mineola
Brooke Wright, So., Chapel Hill
Brittany Wright, So., Chapel Hill
Alba-Golden — Emma Stanford, Sr., Samantha Koonce, Soph.; All Saints — Maddie Smith, Soph., Lanna Johnson, Soph.; Arp — Pamela Williams, Gena Allen, Chelsea Johnson, Alexa Faraimo, Allie Alibrando, Tiesha Wofford; Big Sandy — Kalyn Brisby; Bullard — Kylee Nichols, Sr., Meredith Daly, Jr., Brianna Ridgley, Jr., Callie Timme, Sr.; Chelsie Southerland, Sr., Bailee Callens, Sr.; Cayuga — Danielle Anderson, Soph., Shelby Henry, Sr., Molly Griffey, Jr.; Chapel Hill — Shay Ross, Soph., Cross Roads — Chelsey Pryor, Anna Cross; East Texas Christian Academy — Jenny Munoz, Sr. Courtney Craig, Jr.; Amanda Stephenson, Sr.; Hayley Robertson, Sr.; Edgewood — Paige Parker, Fr., Susan Agesen, Sr., Micaela Brown, Jr.; Eustace — Catania Grant, Sr. Gilmer — Shaylee Fennell, Soph., Katelin Sikes, Sr., Kenya Nix, Sr.; Grapeland — Jalla Johnson, Sr., Andi Huff, Sr., Jalesia Walker, Sr., Amy Brown, Jr.; Hallsville — Nathalia Lomax, Jr.; Harmony — Keirsten Seahorn, Jr., Courtney Matulis, Jr.; Henderson — Tiarra Davis, Jr., Karley Free, Soph.; Grace Community — Emma Yeatts, Soph.; Kilgore — LaQuasha Sheffield, Sr.; Jacksonville — Emily Jones, Sr.; John Tyler — Amanda Theaker, Soph., Quaneshia Johnson, Jr., Erica Franklin, Jr.; Longview — Jordan Taylor, Sr.; Nacogdoches — Charity Page, Jr.; Overton — Tori Williamson, Sr., Savannah Bobbitt, Jr.; Pine Tree — Jane Anne Blount. J’Keisha Evans, Sr., Whitney Ford, Sr., Lauren Cude, Sr., Hannah Robey, Sr.; Robert E. Lee — Rachel Johnston, Sr.; Melissa Menard, Jr., Robert E. Lee; Spring Hill — Jerri Bass, Sr.; Tatum — Maggie Bryant, Sr., Marti Hatfield, Sr., Kaylah Starling, Soph., Haley Hartt, Sr.; T.K. Gorman — Maggie Jorgenson, Sr.; Troup — Cheney Cover, Soph,, Keraveon Rodgers, Sr., Shelby Adkins, Sr., Carly Dyess, Soph., Hunter Jordan, Jr., Allie Bowers, Troup, Sr.; Van — Tiffany King, Sr., Haley McCarty, Jr., BriAnn Thompson, Fr., Brittany Daniels, Sr., Susannah Wisdom, Jr.; White Oak — Kara Kienzle, Sr.; Whitehouse — Fulani Petties, Jr.; Angela Knight, Sr.; Blakely Broughton, Sr.