As the milestone approached, L.D. Bell volleyball coach Vickie Griffin said she just wanted to get her 800th career win out of the way so her team could get on with the rest of its season. But when it actually happened Friday during pool play at the Arlington Invitational Tournament in her 39th season on the job, Griffin and her Lady Blue Raiders were justifiably elated.
“They went nuts,” Griffin said of her young team, which earned Win No. 800 with a two-set win (25-23, 25-20) over Keller Timber Creek in Bell’s third game of pool play. The Blue Raiders beat Rowlett (25-22, 25-20) in their second game of pool play to put Griffin at 799 wins after she came into the tournament sporting a 798-544 career mark.
“The thing I’m most amazed at is that I’ve lasted this long, but mainly that’s because I love what I do and I love the kids,” Griffin said. “My relationship with my players is the biggest part of coaching for me. People asked me along the way if I ever regret not having kids, and I don’t because I have hundreds of kids.
With the 2-2 start Friday, Bell put itself in the tournament’s silver bracket and finished tournament play with a 3-3 record. The Lady Raiders dropped a match to Justin Northwest (19-25, 11-25) before beating Richland (25-13, 25-23). After tournament play, Bell sits at 12-13 on the season as it prepares for District 7-6A play, which starts in less than two weeks. Griffin’s career mark is now 801-547, all at Bell.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations record book, Griffin’s 801 career wins make her the 25th-winningest active high school volleyball coach in the nation, and third in the state behind just two other Texas coaches, Amarillo’s Jan Barker and Lamesa’s Patty Browning.
This year’s Bell team will go as far as outside hitter Allison Barton and middle blocker Sidra Triplett take them. The defense is there, led by right side Shawna Glick and libero Bella Burns’ 478 combined digs on the young season, and has kept the Lady Raiders in games. Barton, who was named to the all-tournament team earlier this year at the Granbury tournament, leads the team offensively with 216 kills, while Triplett, who was named all-tournament at this season’s first tournament in Carrolton, has added 168 so far.
Bell will square off against Arlington Martin at home on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Trinity hosts Double T tournament
Meanwhile, Trinity placed second at its 12th annual Double T tournament, posting a 5-1 record Friday and Saturday with the team’s only loss coming at the hands of tournament winner Abilene. And in the process, the Lady Trojans avenged an earlier regular-season loss to Class 5A power Granbury. After dropping a back-and-forth five-set affair (22-25, 25-20, 21-25, 25-19, 12-15) to the Lady Pirates Tuesday, August 25, Trinity rallied for a five-set win (25-17, 13-25, 25-18, 16-25, 15-9) on Friday after opening tournament play by blanking Azle 3-0.
Outside hitter Zoe Howard led the Lady Trojans in the win against Granbury with 13 kills and notched a double-double by digging 14 balls as well. Junior libero Amanda McDowell led Trinity’s defense with 32 digs.
“We know it’s always going to be tough against Granbury, but our girls came out and really wanted that match,” Trinity coach Mia Langi said. “They were determined to get a little more out of themselves the second time around.”
Langi was an all-state setter/middle blocker for Trinity in 1998.
Setter Margaret Dean and middle blocker Elli Merchant, both juniors, were selected to the all-tournament team at their home tournament. Merchant averaged six kills and six digs per match while playing all over the court in the tournament for the Lady Trojans, while Dean racked up 108 assists in the six tournament matches and registered a double-double (19 assists, 10 kills) in Saturday’s loss to Abilene (28-30, 15-25, 25-14, 14-25).
Trinity will travel to Keller Central to face the Lady Chargers on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Matt Martinez, 817-390-7760