Hereford coach Catherine Beville, middle, talks with her team during a Class 4A regional quarterfinal match against Dumas earlier this season. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]
2019 record: 34-14
District 3-4A: 7-1 (Co-chamions)
State appearances: 9
State championships: 5 (1996, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2008).
The Hereford Lady Whitefaces are back in familiar territory, though it’s been a while since they’ve been there.
For the first time in 11 years the Lady Whitefaces will play at the UIL state volleyball tournament when they face Carthage in a Class 4A state semifinal at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Culwell Center in Garland.
Hereford (34-14 overall) has a long standing tradition as one of state’s elite volleyball programs.
Legendary head coach Brenda Kitten built the Lady Whitefaces into a volleyball power by making eight visits to the state tournament throughout the 1990’s and early 2000’s.
Kitten, who was the Hereford coach from 1985-2008, won the program’s first state championship in 1996, then went on to win four more in 1997, 1999, 2001 and 2008.
Since Kitten stepped down as the head coach into a full-time girls athletic director position at the school, Hereford has yet to find its way back to state until this season.
The new era of Hereford volleyball success is now in the hands of one of its own.
To ensure the tradition, Kitten hired one of her former players in Catherine Beville.
Beville, a 2003 Hereford graduate, was a part of the Lady Whitefaces 1999 and 2001 state title teams.
Since taking over as Hereford’s floor leader in 2012, Beville has worked tirelessly to bring the tradition back to a proud community.
“For me, getting back to state was always a goal,” said Beville, who is 194-145 in six seasons at Hereford. “When I moved back to take this job, I wanted to get Hereford volleyball back to where my coach, Brenda Kitten, had it going. I wanted the community behind us and get our team mentally strong.”
Kitten follows the program very closely, and shares a close relationship with her protege.
Kitten says it’s been rewarding to watch the growth of Beville and her team throughout the year.
“It’s a joy to see the program be successful,” said Kitten, who was 618-234 in 24 seasons as the Hereford volleyball coach. “It’s great to see Catherine be successful. She’s a competitor, and wants Hereford to be good at all sports. It’s extra special because of Catherine’s deep roots here. Her dedication to the community and her players has been a joy to watch. She’s built a great foundation.”
Beville, right, celebrates with her team after beating Dumas in a Class 4A regional quarterfinal at the WTAMU Fieldhouse. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]
Beville is quick to mention that all the credit can’t be given to herself for Hereford’s tremendous season. Beville credits her team, and their outstanding dedication since practices started Aug. 1
Beville knows she wouldn’t be fighting to bring back the coveted state trophy to Hereford if it wasn’t for the players that leave everything on the floor.
“This team plays with so much energy,” Beville said.” I think our strength that doesn’t get the credit is the defense. That’s why we won at regional. We play strong defense, we’re passing well, and the girls have a will to win.”
It’s a very experienced group as well.
Setter Alyssa Vallejo and outside hitter Darcy Dodd are four-year varsity players. Sophomore Taytum Stow is a dominating presence as a 6-foot-3 at middle blocker and junior Rainey Aven is one of the area’s better setters.
“When I was a freshman, I wrote down on a piece of paper that I wanted our team to make it to state,” said Dodd, who has 425 kills with 175 digs this season. “It didn’t come true until this year, and it finally happened. There’s been a lot of excitement. When I was little I always went to the games and made signs for my favorite players. Now I’m getting to live it and go to state.”
Stow echoed Dodd’s comments.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Stow, who has 385 kills with 140 blocks this year. “We’ve come together and, we all love each other on and off and the court. It’s great to play with this team, and for someone like coach Beville.”
This is the Lady Whitefaces ninth trip to the state volleyball tournament.
The Hereford-Carthage winner will play either Lamar Fulshear or Kennedale in the state championship at 1 p.m. Saturday.