At Tompkins High School in Katy, Texas, volleyball is a community affair. In a packed gymnasium, the home crowd knows the cheers — the volleyball team calls, and the crowd responds.
For star hitter Cindy Tchouangwa, the gym booms with enthusiasm.
“When I say big, you say Rice. ‘Big,’” the team shouts. “Rice,” the crowd echoes.
Standing at 6-foot, the Rice University commit isn’t even the tallest on the Falcons’ 34-3 team, but it’s hard to miss her.
In the team’s last two matches, the senior outside hitter recorded 27 kills with a hitting percentage of .725. She also had five aces and 14 digs, earning JWS Player of the Week honors.
So excited to announce my commitment to play volleyball at Rice University. I would like to thank all the coaches and mentors that helped me get where I am today! Go owls🦉💙 #commited @RiceVolleyball @houstonjuniors pic.twitter.com/b8Rn3e8KKG— Cindy Tchouangwa🦋 (@CTchouangwa) August 4, 2021
So excited to announce my commitment to play volleyball at Rice University. I would like to thank all the coaches and mentors that helped me get where I am today! Go owls🦉💙 #commited @RiceVolleyball @houstonjuniors pic.twitter.com/b8Rn3e8KKG
Tchouangwa leads the team in kills (448) and hitting percentage (.404), and she’s second on the team in digs (385). In tonight’s match against district opponent Jordan (22-18), Tchouangwa is approaching another milestone.
“Cindy has five kills to become our Tompkins career kill leader,” coach Allison Merrell said.
While it’s a huge accomplishment, Tchouangwa isn’t one to obsess over her stats.
“Honestly, it slipped my mind,” she said with a laugh.
“She’s just pretty awesome. She’s going to leave a legacy,” Merrell said. “That’s what we’ve talked about all season, what these seniors leave behind.”
The Falcons, who are ranked No. 13 in the latest Just Women’s Sports volleyball team rankings, have already eclipsed several milestones, starting off the season by winning the Katy/Cy-Fair Volleyball tournament. But the Tompkins seniors hope to leave with more, namely a state title.
There’s a reminder in the Falcons’ locker room that’s hard to miss, and every home game, they hit it for good measure. It’s a sign that reads “State” emblazoned with the school’s red, white and blue colors.
“We’re definitely going to win state this year. I want to leave the girls on the team with something to work for again,” Tchouangwa said. “If we bring our energy all the way up and bring the intensity, we’ll definitely win.”
Next year, she’ll go from playing volleyball in the Houston suburbs to playing in the city at Rice University, where she’ll see familiar faces — family, friends and former teammates — in the crowd.
“When I told [my family], they were jumping up and down,” Tchouwanga said. “I think they’ll go to every game.”
Nika Anschuetz is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @nlanschuetz.