Keller Central’s rise to second place in the District 4-5A standings wasn’t an accident. But on Friday, it was by sheer will that the Chargers stayed there.
Central defeated crosstown rival Keller in a five-set thriller last week to maintain its position behind first-place Southlake Carroll.
Stephenville at Glen Rose, 4:30 p.m.
Granbury at Western Hills, 5:30 p.m.
Keller Timber Creek at Keller Central, 5:30 p.m.
Waxahachie at Mansfield Legacy, 5:30 p.m.
Keller at Richland, 5:30 p.m.
Granbury at Arlington Heights, 6:30 p.m.
Crowley at Joshua, 6:30 p.m.
Birdville at Saginaw Boswell, 6:30 p.m.
“It was exciting to say the least,” Central coach Teri Kelso said. “We’ve talked to them all year about capitalizing on our chances, and we needed every one of them Friday.”
The game lasted close to two hours and gave a jolt to Keller’s chances of making the playoffs if the Indians can surge in the second half of district play. But the Chargers (19-12, 7-1) are right where they want to be, according to Kelso.
“I was hoping we would be right in here somewhere,” she said. “We played terrible the first time around against Southlake, but they still have to come to our place and I feel like we haven’t played our best game against them.”
Chasing down Carroll (36-1, 8-0) will be a tall order but one Central has embraced.
Still, with middle blocker Brianna Dorsey back from a year ago when she earned Star-Telegram Super Team honors, Central has been dominant at the net.
Dorsey has 262 kills and 98 blocks on the season. She leads fellow middle blocker Haley Howard, who has 167 kills and 80 blocks.
“We have a dynamic with those two that not a lot of teams can appreciate,” Kelso said. “Brianna plays one way and Alexis has an entirely different style.”
Outside hitter Alexis Emanuel has 207 kills and 32 blocks, which means Central has plenty of offense to go around.
Kelso said that even with the offensive prowess, her team has improved drastically on defense.
Several players were forced to the back row earlier this season when libero Morgan Shuster was out with injury.
“The girls found out how hard it was to play back there, and as a result, they got better at digging the ball,” Kelso said.
Senior Carly Morris is working on her fourth varsity letter for Fort Worth Paschal.
And so far, the 6-foot middle blocker has been dynamic despite her team’s woes in the win column. She’s recorded 237 kills this season and is a force at the net, registering 95 total blocks.
Morris has been to the playoffs only once, during Paschal’s run to the second round in her sophomore season.
“There’s still a lot to play for here,” she said. “We have great support, lots of fans that fill our tiny little gym, and we’ve played a lot of teams to five games.”
One statistic stands out when determining the impact of Haltom setter Ainise Havili. The Buffalos started the season 6-0 with Havili calling the shots at the net.
An injury forced the four-year letter winner on the bench for two weeks, and Haltom lost 13 straight games while she was out.
Havili is perhaps the most dominant setter in the area with 370 assists on the season. But with limited firepower, Havili’s been forced to play the outside in complementing Haltom’s hitting game.
She leads the team with 142 kills and 131 digs.
“Perhaps her biggest strength is how smart she is,” Haltom coach Jennifer Finnell said. “Her volleyball IQ makes her so dangerous all over the floor, and despite the struggle, she’s been the kind of teammate that you always want.”
Havili has committed to play at Kansas next season.
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