It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when you’re on a run like this. To not be able to get a sense of time and place. Or, in this case, history.
So thank goodness for Midway volleyball coach Ryan Porter.
“This is the highest level of volleyball, I think, that’s every been around Central Texas,” Porter said. “I don’t know that I’ll ever get to coach another team that has this kind of depth and this kind of talent.”
Porter’s to-the-point evaluation of what it’s been like to coach the Pantherettes this season isn’t hyperbole. They’ve been that good.
“This whole season has been crazy fun,” said senior outside hitter Allye Beth Deaton, the reigning Super Centex Player of the Year. “Just like a big family.”
Midway is 34-2 and 5-0 in District 8-6A. The Pantherettes have won 29 straight matches and are ranked No. 1 in the Texas Girls Coaches Association Class 6A poll, No. 2 in the USA Today Super 25 national poll and No. 7 in the MaxPreps national poll.
Midway also has five seniors committed to play Division I — Deaton (TCU), outside hitter Samantha Sanders (Texas A&M), middle blocker Avery Rhodes (Iowa State) and middle blocker Miranda Youmans (North Texas).
Senior setter Callie Williams transferred to Midway from Dallas’ Bishop Lynch, where she helped lead the team to three straight TAPPS 5A state titles, and is committed to Tennessee.
“Allye Beth is probably the most dynamic athlete I’ve ever coached,” Porter said. “You don’t see many 6-foot-1 kids that are as agile and athletic as she is, and she’s been a starter since her freshman year.
“Callie is probably one of the top five setters in the country. She’s the real deal, and her volleyball IQ is off the charts … you can tell she was raised pretty much on the volleyball court.”
Williams is the daughter of first-year Baylor assistant volleyball coach Jason Williams and Cory (Sivertson) Williams, the only volleyball player in the Baylor Hall of Fame.
“I think I was a little nervous to come to a new school, but right from the very beginning we all clicked,” Williams said. “It’s just been a great group of girls to be around.”
Williams and Deaton played club volleyball the last two years for Skyline, a team out of Dallas.
“I think we already had some good chemistry because we played club together,” Deaton said. “Hopefully that made the transition a little easier for her.”
What wasn’t easy was Midway’s schedule — or travel schedule, to be more exact. The Pantherettes played their first 26 matches on the road, and travel to Harker Heights on Friday before three straight home matches.
“We were pretty much living in that big, yellow limousine for a couple of months,” Porter said. “But that’s what we had to do to play the best teams in the state.”
Now the goal is to win state — something Midway hasn’t done since winning a 4A title in 2006.
“You can’t ever just expect to win state, but that’s the goal,” Williams said. “You can’t think about it like you expect anything to happen, because you’ll be disappointed if you do. You have to work for it.”
“I think we can go to state and I think we can win state,” Deaton said. “But that’s only if we work hard enough. This year has been a lot of fun, but there’s still a lot of work left to be done.”