Tourney provides early test

Posted Monday, Aug. 19, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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The Mansfield ISD hosted its annual Sunrise Rotary Volleyball Tournament last week, featuring 32 teams from across North Texas and the rest of the state. All five Mansfield schools participated; it was the first tournament of the young season for each. MISD coaches generally agreed that the competition level at the event was outstanding and gave each an opportunity to see how their 2013 squads were shaping up after almost two weeks of practice.

“The competition this weekend was really incredible,” Mansfield High coach Judith McGill said. “We didn’t have any easy games. When you play good teams like that, especially early [in the season], it really helps expose your weaknesses and what you need to work on.”

Mansfield was one of three MISD teams to advance to the championship bracket. Summit and Timberview were also among the final eight.

“I felt the championship was very competitive and it was the true top eight of the tournament,” Summit coach Linda Alfaro added.

Mansfield was bounced into the consolation half of the championship bracket by eventual champion Arlington, but it easily could have gone the other way. The Lady Tigers took Arlington to the limit, splitting the first two games before falling in the decisive third game 24-26.

“There were more good moments than bad moments, but we’re still playing very inconsistent,” McGill said of her club. “We especially need to be more consistent with our passing. We had a good showing. We had some strong hitting and at times really good defense.”

McGill praised the efforts of setter Chandler Gow, Mackensie Wood and Morgan Mutti, who made the all-tournament team. She also called the play of freshman middle blocker Imani Stewart a bright spot.

“Just her presence; she’s got a lot of spirit and she played really awesome this weekend,” McGill said. “That was a big surprise for a freshman to step up in a big tournament on a varsity court. She does not play like a freshman.”

Summit was also pushed to the consolation side of the championship bracket after its loss to private school Grace Prep. The Lady Jags would then fall to Mansfield in their second match on Satruday. Still, Alfaro took plenty of positives from the tournament.

“I felt we did pretty well,” she said. “We saw some things that were promising for the future and for us growing through the season. I’m disappointed we didn’t make the finals because we did last year, but overall I think we did a really good job with how hard we played and the girls really got after it.”

Alfaro felt she got solid play from outside hitter Xariah Williams and libero Courtney Anderson, but would still like to see a little more fire from her defense.

“I’d like to us pursue the ball better,” she said. “I don’t like that we don’t have that tenacity on defense that I’d like to see. At times we do, but it’s not how I would envision it, and for us to be successful that’s what we’re going to have to do.”

Timberview advanced to the final four of the tournament after knocking off El Paso Americas. The Lady Wolves were upended by Arlington Martin in the semifinals, and took fourth place after succumbing to Grace Prep in the third-place match.

Neither Legacy nor Lake Ridge found its way to the championship bracket, but it’s worth noting they’re also the two MISD teams with new head coaches.

Lake Ridge was a surprise playoff team a year ago in the school’s inaugural season, but things started a bit slowly for them this season. Still, barely two weeks into the 2013 campaign, new head coach Jessica Tyler sees progress and promise.

“I don’t think the weekend went up to my expectations,” she said. “But at the same time, we’re learning each other as a team and that’s what this weekend did, was help us learn each other and kind of what we need to work on to move forward.”

Tyler feels senior setter Colbi Bennett and junior outside hitter Murielle Hlavac have been consistent and positive leaders for a young Eagles team still working on its identity.

Amanda Shingleton is in a similar boat at Legacy. Having joined the school just about a month ago, there are still plenty of wrinkles to be ironed out.

“For the first tournament, if nothing else, it gives me a starting point,” she said. “I know now with each match we have coming and these next two tournaments that we have, what we need to work on and what we need to tweak.

“We’re still getting to know each other,” Shingleton added. “I’m still getting to know them and they’re still getting to know me and my expectations for them. I have been really impressed with these girls. They’re very smart. I can tell them something and they can make the adjustment.”

Shingleton was especially pleased with the play of sophomore Shelby Stewart at libero. Stewart was expected to play setter, but has given the Lady Broncos some solid defensive work. Shingleton also praised the hitting of Jasmine Jones, while noting that the middle of the team was still coming along.

“Our middles, well, we still have to work on that connection with our setter,” Shingleton said. “There’s a timing issue and it just takes repetition and a lot of practice. We’re still trying to tweak that. When they do connect, it is very effective. I think down the road our middles are going to be big time leaders for us.”

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