For over four decades, the opening month of the high school volleyball season in New Braunfels has been marked by a Texas-sized tournament co-hosted by the Lady Unicorns and Cougarettes.

Fraulein Volleyfest returns for its 43rd annual showcase today and will welcome a field of 32 teams to town for three days of competition. The squads will be divided into eight four-team pools and then reseeded for Friday following a round of tripleheaders for each team today.

Saturday will feature the gold bracket, silver bracket, bronze bracket and copper bracket title games at various locations.

New Braunfels head coach Heather Sledge said the quality of competition is once again top notch.

“As always, Fraulein is bringing in some great talent from all over Texas,” Sledge said. “It will definitely be some great volleyball. Clark, Ridge Point, Dripping Springs, O’Connor are all returning, and many more.”

Canyon head coach Heather Sanders agreed, adding that the price of admission will provide plenty of entertainment value.

“We will see some amazing volleyball this weekend,” Sanders said. “We always have a waiting list of teams wanting to get into our tournament.”

The Cougarettes enter Fraulein with an overall record of 8-2 following an undefeated run at the Katy ISD/Cy-Fair ISD Volleyball Classic and a 3-0 setback against Westlake Tuesday night at home. Sanders said her team showed flashes of its potential in Katy while rattling off eight consecutive victories en route to claiming the championship.

“Winning the tournament showed us how we are capable of playing,” Sanders said. “We had several kids step up and perform at different times and it was exciting to see the younger players start playing with some confidence.”

Canyon’s attack has been led by the trio of Lauren Woitena, Angel Jones and Erin Jones, who have combined for 218 kills thus far. However, each player has also been contributing in other areas as well.

Angel Jones, an SMU commit, has supplied a team-best 22 blocks, while her sister, setter Erin Jones, has added 142 digs and 65 assists. Woitena is second on the team in digs with 73 behind libero Matti Theurer, who has posted 135 through the first full week of the regular season.

Newcomer Victoria Fontenot has added depth at setter and has posted 109 assists already, while outside hitter Kyla Malone is making her presence felt at the net with 49 kills and counting.

The Cougarettes will begin Fraulein in Pool 4 along with Arlington, Corpus Christi Calallen and Georgetown. Canyon hosts matches against those respective schools at noon, 2 and 5 p.m. today at the Cougar Den.

The Lady Unicorns come into the 43rd edition of Fraulein Volleyfest at 5-5 overall following a 5-4 showing this past weekend at the Adidas John Turner Classic in Pearland. Sledge said her team is still getting its rotations in order and finding out who will contribute come district play.

“We are still working on getting everyone in their spots,” Sledge said. “The girls are working hard and working on that chemistry. Pearland always has great competition and the girls made great strides there. They were able to finish strong in some very tough matches.”

There were multiple highlights in Pearland, including 2-0 wins over defending 26-6A champ Clemens and perennial playoff teams Westlake and Hays.

Senior Madison Glassco has paced the offense to this point, having racked up a team-high 61 kills, but the group of Rian Millership (45 kills), Keriann Kallus (41 kills), Morgan Baese (37 kills) and Cypress Guenther (36 kills) has added plenty of fuel to the fire.

Ella Brunson and Lena Baumann have each seen time at setter and come into today with 121 and 84 assists, respectively. Meanwhile, Edie Welch picked up where she left off as a junior and has notched 115 digs thus far.

New Braunfels is set to compete in Pool 7 today against the likes of Leander, Incarnate Word and Clear Creek at noon, 2 and 5 p.m., respectively. All three matches will be played at New Braunfels High School’s main gym.

In addition to the action on the court, Sledge and Sanders each said it’s a blast to co-host the annual event and showcase some of the city’s top attractions.

“It’s always a lot of fun to co-host with Canyon,” Sledge said. “It’s a super competitive tournament and it’s fun to see all the teams compete. I know the teams truly enjoy New Braunfels and all it has to offer.”

The two coaches would also wish to give thanks to the sponsors that make the event such a big hit each and every season.

“Coach Sledge and I are both grateful to the community for their support of the tournament,” Sanders said. “We have so many businesses that make monetary donations to help sponsor the tournament and so many restaurants that donate food to our hospitality rooms. We couldn’t put on the quality event we are known for without their tremendous support.”

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