Conroe's Ariana Brown currently has 278 kills in 2022, as the Tigers are off to a historic 25-0 start to the season. (Photo courtesy of Ariana Brown)

Inside Conroe High School’s gymnasium in Conroe, Texas, Ariana Brown makes her presence known, and the brand new member of the Tigers is already earning her stripes with 53 sets under her belt this season.

Brown is a 5-foot-11 outside hitter with a formidable arm — she’s earned the nickname “Texas Hammer” from her hometown crowd — and she can’t help but smile.

After all, the senior leads the team in kills with 278, including 34 on Thursday alone when the Tigers won three matches to extend their record to 25-0 on the year. In all, Brown racked up 83 kills over the week, an impressive span that’s earned her Just Women’s Sports Player of the Week honors.

While Brown is new to Conroe High, she’s no stranger to success. As a junior at Klein, she led the team with 481 kills and 67 aces, securing a second team spot on the All-Greater Houston postseason list. During the summer, she left to join Conroe, a 45-minute drive from home, in part to play under the guidance of her mother, coach Charvette Brown.

“From Day 1, they welcomed her with open arms,” coach Brown said. “They embraced her joining the program. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

During her first match with Conroe, Ariana dazzled. She tallied 22 kills in the 3-0 win over Lufkin, including her 1,000th career kill, and while that feat was impressive, Ariana isn’t done. With two months left in the season, she wants to reach 1,600 career kills.

She’s currently outperforming her previous seasons, including an impressive sophomore season where she led Klein to the state championship. With her leadership and technical skill set, Ariana has propelled the Tigers to a historic first — an unprecedented start that has them positioned as the top-ranked team in Class 6A.

“We needed that spark,” coach Brown said. “When she came, it almost made the other players say, ‘We can do this.’ She’s upped their level of play.”

All the while, Ariana is basking in the joy of newfound camaraderie — a family at Conroe. She says it’s the key to the team’s success.

“Our slogan for this year is, ‘One team, one mission,’” Ariana said. “We’re all just together. It’s just always good energy.”

In May, Ariana committed to continue her playing career at the University of Louisiana Monroe, where she plans to study nursing.

“I want to be in a field where I can help people,” Ariana said. “I like taking care of people.”

Nika Anschuetz is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @nlanschuetz.