Press Pass Sports 2021 All-Volleyball Team
[Graphics by Brent Seals. Photos by Matthew Smith, David Erickson, Ben Jenkins, Tom Carver, and Danny Montanez]
The Texas High School Volleyball season came to a close, and it was another stellar year for the Texas Panhandle.
Here’s a look at the 2021 Press Pass Sports Volleyball team.
Coach of the Year: Jason Culpepper, Bushland
Bushland head volleyball coach Jason Culpepper earns the Press Pass Sports Coach of the Year honor for a second time after his Lady Falcons claimed back-to-back UIL Class 3A state championships.
In a much different year, with a much different team, Culpepper and Bushland came together to finish 35-5, claiming the school’s sixth state championship overall since the doors opened 15 years ago.
“This was such a great team effort this year,” Culpepper said. “It felt so different than last year’s state title. Every player was all in all the time. Everyone backed each other up and it was an unbelievable year. It was an awesome season.
"It was just great to be a part of. There was a lot of pressure to go back-to-back, but we didn’t feel it cause we always played the best we could.”
Culpepper continues to cement his legacy as not only one of the best coaches from the Texas Panhandle, but the entire state. In 21 seasons, Culpepper has now made 11 trips to the UIL state tournament between Randall and Bushland.
He earned his third state championship as a head coach in 2021, and if that wasn’t enough, Culpepper hit a career milestone earning his 700th win during this amazing playoff run.
“Each year you try to get better as a coach,” said Culpepper, who is 705-168 as a head coach all-time. “As I get older I’ve just learned to take what I learn and try to get better. I never want to be satisfied. I teach that to these players too. It really doesn’t seem long ago when I won my 100th game at Dalhart, and I enjoy it as much today as I did then.
"When I get up everyday I’m excited to go to practice and get better. But again, I’m lucky to have have great kids and great assistants surround me. The Texas Panhandle is full of hard work. I love that work ethic, and the next day is different than the next one.”
Culpepper trails only former Amarillo High coach Jan Barker (1,116 wins) and former Dumas coach, Jack Wilson (713) for the most victories in the Texas Panhandle all-time.
Players of the Year: Jaycee Adams, Bushland; Currie Marusak, Amarillo High; Taytum Stow, Hereford
It was difficult to separate the top three players who define greatness when it comes to volleyball in the Texas Panhandle.
Bushland’s Jaycee Adams, Amarillo High’s Currie Marusak, and Hereford’s Taytum Stow, are not only dear friends, but will leave a legacy on the volleyball scene for years to come from their tremendous play, and leadership over the past four seasons. That’s why all three will share the 2021 Press Pass Player of the Year honor.
Jaycee Adams, Bushland, Libero, Sr.
No question Adams was the heart and soul of a Bushland team that is one of the best programs in the state.
The energetic libero left everything she had every time she stepped on the court during her four-year career as a Lady Falcon.
“Playing at Bushland has meant having a family that I can always count on,” Adams said. “I’m surrounded by people that want to constantly grow and get better. Being a two-time state champion is such a blessing, and it means that what we’re doing here at Bushland works.”
The West Texas A&M commit never let the ball hit the floor, racking up over 1,100 digs the past two seasons. Adams was named the District 1-3A MVP this year, and made a young team better each and every week. Adams led Bushland to over 70 wins the past two years, 14 straight playoff victories and more importantly two straight state titles.
“I will always remember the life lessons I learned at Bushland,” said Adams, who had 603 digs, and 58 aces this senior season. “I learned to control what I could control. I also learned that success is not paid in full, it’s a rent you have to show up and pay everyday.”
Adams shares a special relationship with Bushland head coach, Jason Culpepper. One she’ll always cherish.
“I have absolutely loved playing for coach Culpepper,” Adams said. “He’s one of those people that takes the time to learn who you are as a person not just as a player. When I found out we were getting him as a coach, I actually cried. I was so scared of him, and I never guessed he would leave such a lasting impact in my life.”
Culpepper echoed Adams comments.
“She’s the heart and soul since of this team,” Culpepper said. “Jaycee is always constant energy and a positive force. This year she took on a bigger role. More of a mentor leader on and off court. She was there for everyone. She lifted up every teammate. She’s easily coachable. She’s everything you could want in a player inside and out. We’re going to miss her, but we’re excited to see her play at WT.”
Currie Marusak, Amarillo High, outside hitter, Sr.
Currie Marusak will go down as one of the greatest players to ever put on a prestigious Amarillo High uniform, living up to the tradition of what it takes to be a Lady Sandies volleyball player.
The senior was the cornerstone for AHS, playing in four straight regional tournaments, and helping the Lady Sandies to back-to-back District 3-5A championships.
“Currie is an incredible mix of raw talent and desire,” AHS head coach Mike Moffitt said. “She was always going to be good but her coachability and consistent best effort in practice has turned her into an all-time great high school player. Hopefully she has inspired our future players to dream big but work hard on the little things.”
Marusak echoed her Moffitt's comment.
“Playing at Amarillo High was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Marusak said. “It meant so much to me. The chemistry with my team, and coaches made it such a great experience. I enjoyed the friendships I creates and built from my freshman year. This is a tremendous program to play for. You grow up dreaming of wearing a Lady Sandie uniform.”
Marusak had a memorable senior season. She was named the District 3-5A MVP for a second straight year, and no question is on her way to another All-State nod. She smashed the school-record for kills in a single-season with 717 this past year, surpassing good friend Emerson Solano’s record of 560 set in 2016. If that wasn’t enough, Marusak went on to become the program’s all-time kills leader, passing Solano once again with 1,524.
"Those records were something I couldn’t do without my teammates,” Marusak said. "They are the reason I accomplished what I did, so I am thankful for them.
"Passing Emerson is something I did always want. She’s like a sister to me, and I always loved watching her play. She's my role model, and it’s an honor to be up there with her.”
Marusak ended her season with not only a record 771 kills, but added 397 digs, 70 blocks and 44 aces to her 2021 season.
Taytum Stow, Hereford, middle blocker, Sr.
There hasn’t been a four-year player quite as dominating in some time as Hereford’s Taytum Stow. The 6-foot-3 hard-hitting middle blocker gave opponents fits during her time as a high school athlete.
The soon to be three-time All-State selection became a household name as a freshman. By the time Stow was a sophomore she was leading Hereford to the UIL Class 4A state championship match.
“Growing up I remember my mother talking about the tradition of Hereford Volleyball,” Stow said. “It was a big deal, and Hereford was really known for volleyball in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. I honestly never wanted to play volleyball. Then in sixth grade coach (Catherine) Beville took a chance on me. From my freshman year to my senior year, my team and I had the chance to bring the tradition back. That is something I think is special.”
Hereford head coach Carley McCracken says she was fortunate to coach a total package like Stow.
“Taytum of course was special because of her ability to play volleyball,” McCracken said. “She’s such a presence on the court, everyone seems a little more calm when she is in. Throughout her four years, she received a lot of recognition and she almost shied away from it all because she is so humble. She never made a big deal out of all the awards she received, she cared more about the team’s accomplishments than her individual accomplishments.
"Taytum is a great role model to our kids that are coming up. I’m so thankful we get to call her ours.”
The accolades for the West Texas A&M signee speak for themselves. Stow was a two-time District 4-4A MVP. Stow won multiple tournament MVP honors, and helped Hereford to over 120 wins in four seasons, including a school-record 46 this year.
She will be a three-time All-State selection, and Stow ends her career racking up eye-opening 1,841 kills, 553 blocks.
“I am so grateful for all of my awards and recognitions,” Stow said. “Ultimately this points back to Hereford Volleyball, and finding your purpose. It’s about helping younger players recognize that, that is what this sport is all about. The community of Hereford will always hold a special place in my heart. They show up for us not just in volleyball but in life. That is what I will always remember.”
Paris Patterson, Randall, OH, Sr.
Patterson came into her own by dominating opponents in 2020. The District 3-5A Offensive Player of the Year led the Lady Raiders to the regional semifinals, hammering down 489 kills and making 500 digs to go with 52 aces.
Brielle Worley, Amarillo High, OH, Sr.
Worley was a huge compliment to Currie Marusak as a senior leader of an Amarillo High team that advanced to the Class 5A regional semifinals. Worley, a District 3-5A first-team selection, totaled 553 kills with 247 digs, 43 blocks and 58 aces. Worley will play for Abilene Christian next fall.
Abree Elsheimer, Dumas, OH, Sr.
The senior standout wrapped up her senior season with 409 kills to go with 390 digs, 42.5 blocks and 34 aces. Bain, a first-team All-District 4-4A selection did all she could to get the Demonettes to the Class 4A regional semifinals for the first time since 2012.
Emma Troxell, Bushland, middle blocker, Jr.
The hard-hitting junior thrived in her first year as a starting middle blocker. Not only did Troxell help the Lady Falcons to a second straight UIL Class 3A state title, but she also earned state tournament MVP honors. The District 1-3A first-team selection finished the season with 315 kills, 68 blocks and 12 aces.
Miranda Acosta, Hereford, Libero, Sr.
Acosta wrapped up a stellar four-year varsity career, leading a Hereford to a 46-3 record and a run to the regional semifinals. Acosta was named District 4-4A Defensive Player of the Year for a second straight season, ending her senior campaign with 661 digs with 57 aces.
Abrey Galt, Tascosa, setter, Sr.
Galt earned the District 3-5A Setter of the Year had a fantastic senior season for the Lady Rebels. Galt, an Oklahoma Baptist signee, dished out an eye-opening 1,154 assists, hit the floor for 316 digs and piled up 153 kills to go with 50 blocks and 43 aces.
Newcomer of the Year
Jordyn Gove, Randall, outside hitter, So.
Gove soaked up every bit of her first year of varsity volleyball at Randall. The sophomore was a fantastic compliment to senior outside hitter Paris Patterson,!hammering down a total of 420 kills, adding 597 digs and 40 aces. Gove was named 3-5A Newcomer of the Year.
Bonnie Vallejo, Hereford, OH, Sr.
The District 4-4A first-team selection was a pivotal part of Hereford’s 46-3 record and run to the Class 4A regional semifinals. Vallejo tallied 312 kills, 498 digs, and 39 blocks.
Camryn Blair, Hereford, OH, Jr.
The junior came on strong for head coach Carley McCracken as one of the top hitters on the Lady Whitefaces in 2021. Blair only got better as the season progressed, finishing her year with 356 kills and 57 blocks. Blair was a District 4-4A first-team selection.
Madyson Eberly, Bushland, MB, Jr.
Eberly was a bright spot to help fill the offensive void from a year ago. The junior knocked down 271 kills, and was key on defense with 79 blocks, adding 23 aces. Eberly was named as a first-team District 1-3A selection.
Ava Haugen, Canyon, OH, Sr.
Canyon made it three rounds deep into the Class 4A playoffs for a second straight year, and the veteran Haugen was a key cog for that reason. The first-team District 4-4A selection ended her year with 222 kills with 37 blocks.
Jo Moffitt, Amarillo High, setter, Jr.
The junior wrapped up a stellar season by setting the Amarillo High single-season assist record. Moffitt totaled 1,441 assists on the year, surpassing Brianna Barker’s record of 1,234 set in 2006. Moffitt, a first-team District 3-5A selection, also had 235 digs and 70 aces.
Taylor Irving, Randall, Libero, Sr.
Irving was a team leader for the Lady Raiders and a fantastic defensive specialist. For her outstanding defensive play, the senior was named the District 3-5A Defensive Player of the Year. Irving hit the floor for 624 digs, added 66 assists, and 47 aces.
Fighting Heart Team
The Texas Panhandle said goodbye to key seniors who flew under the radar to many, but were monumental to their school’s and communities on and off the court through athletics and academics. Here are the All-Press Pass Team Fighting Heart honorees.
Nevaeh Rodriguez, Highland Park, OH, Sr.
Rodriguez was four-year star for the Highland Park Lady Hornets. The outstanding outside hitter helped Highland Park to the UIL Class 2A state tournament as a freshman, and started every season since. The All-State player ended her four years tallying 1,264 kills, was named the District 1-3A Offensive Player of the Year, and carries a 4.19 grade point average ranking in the top 10 of her class.
Jaelin Ornelas, Caprock, Libero, Sr.
The three-year varsity letterman was the heart and soul for the Lady Longhorns. Ornelas, a second-team District 3-5A selection, made 831 digs, 92 aces and 46 assists this past year. Ornelas carries a 98.8 grade point average, and will play college softball at Texas Lutheran.
Rhiana Todd, Dalhart, OH, Sr.
Todd has been a team leader for Dalhart during her superb four-year career. She’s one of two four-year starters under coach Kira Satterfield, and was named as the Co-District 1-3A Defensive Player of the Year. Todd ended her senior season with 450 kills, 525 digs, and 20 aces. Todd also ranks third in her class academically with a 95.2 grade point average.
Ryne Roden, Canyon, Setter, Sr.
Roden was a senior leader for a very young Canyon squad in 2021. As a junior, Roden played a pivotal role leading the Lady Eagles to the Class 4A regional finals. This season, Roden was a Co-Setter of the Year with 889 assists and 231 digs. She also ranks fifth in her class academically.
Bella Price, Sanford-Fritch, MB, Sr.
Price has been the team leader of the Lady Eagles on and off the court. On the floor, Price garnered District 4-2A Offensive MVP honors, knocking down 387 kills, 154 blocks and 67 digs. Off the court, Price ranks No. 1 in her upcoming graduating class with a 103 grade point average. Price was also named the District 4-2A MVP as a junior.
Haley Hurst, Miami, Setter, Sr.
Miami, the District 4-1A champion, had a historic year, making the Region I-1A Tournament for the first time in school history. Hurst, an All-State selection as a junior, led the Lady Warriors once again with 720 assists to go with 211 digs. For a second straight season, Hurst, nabbed District 4-1A MVP honors. Hurst is also one of the tops in her class academically.
(Class 5A to 1A)
Kaylie Ledbetter, Amarillo High, L, Jr.
Joey Pennington, Amarillo High, OH, Sr.
Maretta Ramirez, Randall, S, Sr.
Rylee Miller, Randall, MB, Sr.
Liv Sims, Tascosa, OH, Sr.
Bebe Irwin, Tascosa, MB, Sr.
Maclin Culwell, Canyon, L, Sr.
Brenley Rodriguez, Dumas, MB, Sr.
Jazzy Ortiz, Dumas, L, Sr.
Nickilah Whatley, Hereford, MB, Jr.
Mikalie Floyd, Pampa, OH, Jr.
Haley Fossett, Pampa, L, Sr.
Ta’Leigha Tabor, Borger, OH, Sr.
Kierstin Jones, Borger, S, Sr.
Logan Culpepper, Bushland, S, Jr.
Mille Maupin, Bushland, S, Sr.
Kaela Neie, Bushland, MB, Jr.
Mercedes Harton, Highland Park, S, Jr.
Kendalyn Kosechata, Highland Park, OH-DS, Sr.
Adah Henderson, Childress, MB, Jr.
Kenzlee Carroll, Childress, L, Sr.
Lily Stephens, Childress, S, Sr.
Anahi Gonzales, Friona, L, Sr.
Rylee Kunkel, River Road, S, Jr.
Shiyan Lozano, River Road, OH, Sr.
Haley Raper, Sanford-Fritch, OH-DS, Sr.
Lula Nolen, West Texas High, S, Sr.
Kyndall Ragland, Wildorado OH, Sr.
Makenna Byrd, Wildorado, OH, Jr.