All Scores

Conroe volleyball keeps winning, lands at No. 4 in JWS rankings

The 2022 Conroe (Texas) volleyball team. (Photo courtesy of Charvette Brown)

The start of the 2022 volleyball season has been historic for Conroe High School (Texas). The Tigers have won 32 straight matches to start the season, by far their best start in program history, dropping just five sets in the process.

Over the last 15 seasons, Conroe hasn’t won more than 29 games in a single season. The Tigers have already surpassed that mark this fall and still have over 10 games remaining in the regular season.

Senior Ariana Brown has helped propel the Tigers to their unbeaten start with 367 kills, averaging more than five kills per set. The University of Louisiana Monroe commit, who is coming off a seven-day stint that earned her Just Women’s Sports Player of the Week honors, transferred to the school in the offseason and is getting the opportunity to play for her mother, coach Charvette Brown, while closing out her varsity career.

Kenedi Medford is usually the one setting for Brown, racking up 456 assists along the way, while her sister Kaiden Medford has tallied 119 kills. Emma Malak recently surpassed 1,000 career digs, with 439 of them coming this season.

Conroe began the season unranked, but thanks to the unbeaten start, the Tigers have arrived at No. 4 in this week’s JWS volleyball team rankings.

Check out the complete rankings below, and click here to see last week’s rankings.

1. Cathedral Catholic (Calif.), 1-0

The Dons opened up their 2022 campaign last week with a convincing sweep of La Costa Canyon, winning all three sets by eight points or more.

2. Marymount (Calif.), 4-0

The Sailors have not lost since 2019 and have dropped just one set so far this season.

3. Bloomfield Hills Marian (Mich.), 12-0

Senior Ava Sarafa, a Kentucky commit, is averaging more than nine assists per set this season.

4. Conroe (Texas), 32-0

While the Tigers finished 24-19 last year, their last playoff appearance was in 2017.

5. Wayzata (Minn.), 2-0

The Trojans extended their winning streak to 56 games with consecutive victories to start the season.

6. Byron Nelson (Texas), 24-1

The Bobcats distribute the wealth. They have a trio of attackers with more than 200 kills and two setters with more than 300 assists.

7. Cornerstone Christian (Texas), 31-1

Senior Nayeli Gonzalez leads the way with 307 kills, and sophomore Megan Fitch isn’t far behind with 288 kills.

8. Prestonwood Christian (Texas), 14-1

The Lions’ sole loss is to Cornerstone Christian, and they bounced back by handing Highland Park just their second loss of the season.

9. Blue Valley North (Kan.), 2-0

The reigning state champions have picked up where they left off last season.

10. Highland Park (Texas), 23-2

The Scots’ two losses have both come against Prestonwood Christian.

11. Buford (Ga.), 15-1

The Wolves have reeled off nine wins in a row, dropping just two sets during that streak.

12. Tompkins (Texas), 21-3

The Falcons have cooled off slightly, falling in two of their past seven matches.

13. Ponte Vedra (Fla.), 2-0

The Sharks have played two games and secured two straight-set victories in the past week.

14. Sante Fe (Fla.), 3-0

The Raiders have played nine sets this season and have won all nine as they look to repeat as Class 4A state champions.

15. Cleveland (Tenn.), 16-1

Since losing their second match of the season, the Blue Raiders have reeled off 15 consecutive wins, dropping just four sets.

16. McCutcheon (Ind.), 9-1

The defending Class 4A state champions have dropped just three sets this season, although two of those dropped sets resulted in a loss during tournament play.

17. Dike-New Hartford (Iowa), 7-1

The Wolverines fell in pool play of the Centennial Early Bird Tournament but bounced back to claim the trophy in a stacked field that included some of the top teams in Iowa.

18. Mira Costa (Calif.), 9-2

The Mustangs returned to their winning ways Tuesday with a sweep.

19. Assumption (Ky.), 6-0

A perennial contender, the Rockets are off to another hot start.

20. Alpharetta (Ga.), 17-3

After starting the season 9-3, the Raiders are currently riding an eight-game winning streak, during which they’ve lost just one set.

21. Papillion-La Vista South (Neb.), 6-1

The Titans’ 45-game winning streak came to an end Saturday with a straight-set loss, but they avenged that defeat days later with a sweep of the same opponent.

22. Fayetteville (Ark.), 3-0

The Bulldogs have played nine sets and won all of them.

23. Bishop Gorman (Nev.), 2-0

The Gaels’ pursuit of a fourth consecutive state championship is off to a good start.

24. Sierra Canyon (Calif.), 13-1

The Trailblazers have played Mira Costa twice this season, splitting the series.

25. Mother McAuley (Ill.), 8-0

The Mighty Macs have yet to drop a set after falling in last year’s Class 4A state title game.

Phillip Suitts is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports. He has worked at a variety of outlets, including The Palm Beach Post and Southeast Missourian, and done a little bit of everything from reporting to editing to running social media accounts. He was born in Atlanta but currently lives in wintry Philadelphia. Follow Phillip on Twitter @PhillipSuitts.

Rose Lavelle hoping to return to play ‘in the next couple of weeks’

uswnt midfielder rose lavalle trains on a soccer field in florida
When healthy, Rose Lavelle is a trusted asset in the USWNT's midfield. (Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

Rose Lavelle is hoping to return to the field soon. 

The 28-year-old midfielder has been sidelined with a lower leg injury since the Gold Cup in early march. Since then, she has yet to play for new club Gotham FC in the NWSL. She also missed a potential USWNT appearance at the SheBelieves Cup in April, where senior team newcomer Jaedyn Shaw saw success assuming Lavelle's role in the attacking midfield. 

At the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee media showcase on Monday, Lavelle told reporters that she’s doing well and hopes to be back soon.

"I’m doing good — I’m hoping I’ll be back in the next couple weeks," Lavelle said. "It’s frustrating to start the year off with an injury, just because I feel like you come off preseason and you’re revving to go, so it’s so annoying."

Lavelle is still looking to compete for one of just 18 Olympic roster spots. When healthy, she ranks as one of the national team’s most trusted assets, but considering this most recent injury, her health is an obvious concern. Faced with an onslaught of experienced competitors and young talent, incoming USWNT coach Emma Hayes will have some big decisions to make when selecting the Paris-bound squad — a reality Lavelle seems to be taking in stride as she works to regain full fitness.

"We have so many special players, we have so much depth, and so many different weapons to utilize on and off the bench," Lavelle said. "Unfortunately that means really good players are going to get left off, too. And I think for all of us, it’s just about being ready for whatever role is given to us, embracing that, and looking to put it into a collective picture so that we can go into the Olympics ready to go."

Kate Paye tapped to take VanDerveer’s place at Stanford

new stanford head coach kate paye spins a basketball on the court
Stanford associate head coach Kate Paye has officially been promoted to head women's basketball coach. (Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports)

Stanford has found its replacement for legendary head women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer in associate head coach Kate Paye.

The Cardinal confirmed the hiring on Tuesday via a press release. Paye was largely expected to replace the longtime head coach, as the college mentioned they were still negotiating Paye's contract when they announced VanDerveer's retirement.

In Tuesday's statement, Paye reported that she was "humbled" to have been tapped to lead the women’s program.

"Stanford University has been a central part of my life for as long as I can remember and I am humbled to have the opportunity to lead its women’s basketball program," Paye said. "I’d first like to thank Tara, who has played such a pivotal role in my career for her friendship and guidance. It’s not what she’s done, but how she’s done it, that has had such a profound impact upon me."

A Woodside, California native, Paye played under VanDerveer from 1992 to 1995, taking home a national title her freshman year. After graduation, Paye briefly joined San Diego State as an assistant coach before making her professional debut with the ABL's Seattle Reign in 1996. After finishing her playing career with the WNBA's Seattle Storm, she joined the team’s coaching staff in 2007 and has been with the organization ever since, picking up another national title win — this time as associate head coach — in 2021. Paye's brother John played quarterback for Stanford from 1983 to 1986, while also serving as a point guard on the basketball team.

In her own response, VanDerveer said that she was "grateful" that Stanford picked Paye to follow in her stead. Last week, the decorated coach stated that this year would be her last after 38 seasons at the helm and three national titles under her belt.

"She has long been ready for this opportunity and is the perfect leader for Stanford at this time of immense change in college athletics," VanDerveer noted. "Kate was the choice for this job and I am confident she will achieve great success as head coach."

After a record-breaking Draft Night, WNBA roster cuts loom

2023 WNBA no. 1 draft pick Aliyah Boston playing for the indiana fever
Despite going No. 1 overall in the 2023 WNBA Draft, Aliyah Boston had to fight hard to make it onto Indiana's roster. (Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

The 2024 WNBA Draft has officially concluded, leaving the newly minted rookie class facing a tough road ahead.

Only 144 roster slots are available throughout the league’s 12 teams, the reason why the players are sometimes referred to as the “144.” And Monday’s draft picks are set to join a large group of established players competing for those same roster spots, from seasoned veterans to young athletes determined to prove their value on the court.

Last year, just 15 of the league’s 36 draftees made it onto their drafting team's opening-day squad.

In reality, there are oftentimes fewer than 144 spots available, as not every team maxes out their roster. Per the league's CBA, each team roster must maintain a minimum standard of 11 players, but those lists can include players out with injuries or on other forms of leave. Players can also be assigned to short-term hardship contracts, something waived players must be prepared for at any point during the season.

Earlier this week, Laeticia Amihere — a 2022 national champion with South Carolina who currently plays for the Atlanta Dream — took to TikTok to provide some insight into the WNBA training camp process. 

"You can either get drafted on Draft Night, or you can get signed by a team," she said. "Once that happens, you go to training camp literally like two weeks later... Basically everybody's got to try out. There's 12 roster spots, and there's like 18 people at the at the trial."

@laeticiaamihere Replying to @dantavius.washington #wnba #draft ♬ original sound - Laeticia Amihere

Amihere also had an important point to make: Getting cut does not signify a player’s abilities. 

"If you get cut after training camp, that does not mean you're not good," she said. "That does not mean that player sucks, don't stop supporting that player. Literally, there's so many reasons somebody can get cut."

"If you guys look at the best players in the league, most of them have bounced around teams," she added. "And I promise you it is not a bad thing, it's just how the league is."

Things, however gradually, are changing. With Golden State's WNBA team scheduled to launch in time for the 2025 season, league expansion is just around the corner. On Monday, Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced that the league is aiming to grow to 16 teams by 2028. But by then, it might be too little too late for the generation of talent emerging from an increasingly competitive NCAA system.

WNBA draft shatters records with 2.45 million viewers

wide shot of BAM during the 2024 WNBA Draft
It wasn't just attendees that were glued to the on-stage action at the 2024 WNBA Draft. (Photo by Melanie Fidler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Monday night’s WNBA draft added to the nationwide uptick in record-breaking women's sports viewership, pulling in 2.45 million viewers throughout the nearly two-hour broadcast and peaking at 3.09 million, according to an ESPN release. 

That number shatters the previous draft viewership record — 601,000 in 2004 — which was fueled primarily by then-No. 1 pick Diana Taurasi entering the league after UConn's historic three-peat March Madness performance.  

The 2023 WNBA draft drew 572,000 viewers, the most for any televised WNBA event since 2.74 million tuned in to NBC for a Memorial Day matchup between the New York Liberty and Houston Comets back in 2000.

While many came to watch Caitlin Clark get drafted No. 1 overall, it’s important to note that viewership didn’t take a massive dip after the superstar shooter left the stage. The numbers show that a bulk of the audience stuck around to watch the remainder of the show, making 2024's event not just the most-viewed WNBA draft in history, but also the most-viewed WNBA program to ever air on ESPN platforms.

Draft Day's popularity is yet another sign indicating an expected rise in WNBA regular season viewership. Clark and Iowa's NCAA tournament showdown with the Chicago Sky-bound Kamilla Cardoso's South Carolina side drew a record 18.7 million to ABC's Sunday afternoon broadcast. Banking on this trend, 36 of Indiana's upcoming 40 games are set to be shown on national television. In-person ticket sales are also soaring, leading the defending WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces to re-home their matchup with the Fever to a venue that can accommodate some 6,000 more fans.

Start your morning off right with Just Women’s Sports’ free, 5x-a-week newsletter.