Regardless of the sport, a coach will find a reason to worry about something.
In Southlake Carroll volleyball coach Ryan Mitchell’s case, this week is about avoiding the flat spot. The Lady Dragons won an emotionally draining five-game match at Lewisville Hebron this past Friday. It’s been two years since this program has gone through something like this, when it lost a pair of district matches to Colleyville Heritage.
It’s September. But the importance of beating the defending Class 6A state champions on the road carries value. Carroll (28-5, 3-0 District 5-6A) could have cleared a mental hurdle of winning a match against program that has had the better of it.
Now Mitchell had to hope his crew would rebound as it played Flower Mound Marcus at home Tuesday and plays at Flower Mound on Friday.
“The important thing is that we got back to preparing the way we normally did things, and that started Monday with Marcus,” Mitchell said. “It was fun to celebrate a big win at Hebron. We enjoyed it. But the only thing we talked about was making sure they wanted to go 4-0 in the district. That’s the focus.”
The program enjoyed a major shift when senior Haley Hallgren returned to the net at outside hitter. An abdominal strain had limited Hallgren to playing libero for the past six weeks.
When Hallgren was cleared to play her regular position, Mitchell gradually worked her back into the rotation against Lewisville. Hallgren played about half of the match. However, that was completely different for Hebron. She never left the floor.
“We got a good report because we found out that she was not feeling any pain or soreness following the Hebron match,” Mitchell said. “When you play a match like that, it’s going to be draining. But she felt fine. She wasn’t hurting.
“What’s important is that we’re going to limit her swings for the next couple of matches, just to make sure we don’t overdo it.”
Hallgren’s return also changes the function of the Carroll offense. Mitchell expressed some concerns about his outside hitting situation and confronting some consistency matters.
“The hitting percentage hasn’t been very good,” Mitchell said. “Having Haley’s presence all around the court is a great weapon. There are no big ups and downs. She’s a great passer and a great blocker.”
In a related note, Mitchell wasn’t expecting senior outside hitter Mellanie King (ankle) or senior setter Sheridan Webb (concussion) back for Tuesday. There was an outside chance King could return Friday.
Colleyville Heritage (22-8, 3-0 8-5A): A strong week from senior Tatum Ticknor and junior Lauren Evans continued to push the Lady Panthers with wins over Birdville and Richland last week. The Lady Panthers were heavily favored in matches against Fort Worth Poly and Fort Worth Dunbar.
“We’ve also had some strong play from [sophomore] defensive specialist Jillian Dits,” head coach Bri Barker-Groth said. “She’s does a great job of reading the play before it starts.”
Grapevine (22-12, 3-0 8-5A): The Lady Mustangs have a pretty healthy roster after dealing with some sprained ankles early. Senior setter Hannah Merrick has been pushing the pace of the offense, head coach Whitney Woody said.
“That’s been the key, because we know what we can do when we play faster,” Woody said.
Grapevine played Richland on Tuesday and meets Fort Worth Poly Friday.