SHE MAY BE YOUNG, BUT NEW KLEIN CAIN VOLLEYBALL SARAH BAERENWALD HAS LEARNED FROM THE BEST.
The first-year head coach played for the legend Donna Benotti at Cy-Fair. Benotti has over 800 wins in her career and has been a tremendous mentor to Baerenwald.
After graduating from Texas A&M, Baerenwald jumped right into coaching. She was hired as an assistant by another legend in Ashley Ahlfinger – who opened Cypress Woods and built a successful volleyball brand in Houston.
She coached three years for the Wildcats and was hired at Klein Cain.
“Sarah and I have both had the blessing of playing for Donna Benotti – one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around,” Cy Woods coach Ashley Ahlfinger said. “I was fortunate to hire Sarah as my assistant. She is so talented and makes everyone around her a better person. She has a heart of gold for her players and students. I’m looking forward to her having great success at Klein Cain, and I believe in her with all my heart.”
Baerenwald takes over a program that went 19-22 overall; 5-7 in district play that was good enough to make the postseason in 2021. The Hurricanes fell in three games to Cypress Ranch in the first round of the playoffs.
She will have some talented pieces back on the court this fall who could flourish in Baerenwald’s style of play.
“All that any coach can ask for is to give 100-percent all the time,” she said. “Sure, we are going to have to move some puzzle pieces around and figure out what’s best for the team. Adjusting very quickly is my anticipation for this season.”
The quarterback returns in the district’s Setter of the Year Kelly Pawelka, who is just a sophomore. She will be the coach on the court. First-team, all-district hitter Courtney Carter and first-team, all-district libero Mikaela Kissinger also returns to ease the transition. In the middle will be Jaylynn McNeil, so the cupboard is far from bare.
“Winning is great. I want to win big,” she said. “For me, this year is about setting the foundation and that’s all about effort. The beauty of sports is that it also teaches life lessons, like how to deal with adversity and work with people of different backgrounds. I want these girls to be the best people they can be on and off the court. That’s a take-away that will be with them the rest of their lives.”
Spoken like a true veteran head coach.