The volleyball season begins on Monday with tournaments all over the state during the week. With sights on November’s state tournament in Garland, teams and players gear it up for another exciting year.
Who will be the next Argyle (4A champs), the next Hebron (6A champs) or even the next Xariah Williams (Mansfield Summit grad was Star Telegram Player of the Year last season).
Take a look at the Top 12 teams and Top 30 players among area schools to watch during this fall.
Teams to Watch
Grapevine (33-17), Regional Final: 2002 Mustangs grad Whitney Woody comes over from Burleson Centennial to take over her alma mater, a team that was one set away from the state tourney last season. Seniors Jordan McCalla (St. John’s commit), Madison Lawler (Southern Miss commit) and Hannah Merrick, and sophomores Symone Wesley and Anna Johnson return to a squad that only graduated two seniors.
Arlington Lamar (42-8), Regional Semis: Vikings are coming off a 42-win season and regional semifinal appearance. Seniors Kayla Whetstone (first-team all-district, 288 kills) and Emily Dondero (424 digs, 35 aces) return to coach Heather Woodman’s team.
Southlake Carroll (43-4), Regional Quarters: The Dragons bring back nine seniors and have nine on the roster committed to play Division I volleyball, including seniors Haley Hallgren (USC beach), Lisie Kit (Clemson) and junior Asjia O’Neal (Texas).
Saginaw Boswell (37-6), Regional Quarters: Senior Kailyn Gilbreath (UTA commit) is bound for another stellar season while junior setter Kylie Courtney returns after a school record 1,387 assists on last year’s regional quarterfinal team. Senior Natalie Smith (Michigan commit) also returns and 6-foot-2 junior Hannah Boyd is set to play after sitting out last season after transferring from Azle.
Arlington (25-22), Regional Quarters: A quest for a 25th-consecutive playoff appearance will ride high on the shoulders of 6-foot-3 junior Katie Clark (TCU commit), who had 642 kills last season. Arlington only graduated three seniors and also returns last year’s District Newcomer of the Year in sophomore Maddy Knott (187 kills, 43 blocks).
Aledo (38-12), Area: In her 21st year, coach Kathy Goings (604 wins) only graduated two from last year’s team. Among the returners are District Offensive MVP, daughter, senior Maddie Goings (Oregon State), and Setter MVP senior Erin Weiss.
Granbury (32-13), Area: Coach Tammy Clark (306 wins) only graduated three from last year’s team. Among the returners are one of the better outside hitters and setters in the area in seniors Amber Strange (Tarleton State commit) and Molly Shade (Lamar commit). Seven other seniors expected to return.
Colleyville Heritage (21-24), Area: The Panthers return 75.9 percent of their kills from 2015 in junior Lauren Evans (420 kills), senior Jordan Lackey (368 kills), senior Tatum Ticknor (280 digs) and sophomore Jill Dickens (163 kills) and should excel in Class 5A.
Kennedale (30-14), Area: The Wildcats won district last season and have made the playoffs nine-straight years. Eight are expected to return, six seniors, including Jodi Dixon (Server MVP) and Emma Riffe (second team), and junior Raeley Crosley (Blocker MVP). Four return that had 150 or more kills in 2015.
Euless Trinity (28-14), Bi-District: The Trojans lost six to graduation but those returning should help the team get back to the postseason. The leadership starts with seniors Margaret Dean (SFA commit), Elli Merchant (Mercer beach commit) and Amanda McDowell, and junior Veronica Dollar.
White Settlement Brewer (23-14): The Bears look strong with seniors Emily Parker, Meagan North, Amanda Reed, Teranne Shepherd and Makenna Blassingame, and junior Lauren Jenkins.
Justin Northwest (17-26): All district nods seniors Camryn Berryhill (first team) and Bailey Cagle (second team) highlight the Texans, who drop down a class and get a new coach in Jennifer Chandler, who comes over from Keller Fossil Ridge.
Players to Watch
Haley Hallgren, Sr., Southlake Carroll: The USC beach volleyball commit was a TGCA all state and all star selection, and named district MVP.
Lisie Kit, Sr., Southlake Carroll: Clemson commit was named District Setter of the Year in 2015 with 918 assists.
Veronika Webb, Sr., Mansfield Summit: The 6-foot-2 senior returns the most kills and blocks from last season with 203 and 55.
Margaret Dean, Sr., Euless Trinity: First-team all-district setter had 708 assists, 391 digs and 199 kills for the playoff Trojans.
Elli Merchant, Sr., Euless Trinity: The Mercer beach volleyball commit had 286 kills, 270 digs and 27 aces.
Amber Strange, Sr., Granbury: Tarleton State commit was District MVP last season and first-team Star Telegram super team with 477 kills, 252 digs and 71 blocks.
Molly Shade, Sr., Granbury: The Lamar commit had 1,157 assists and 281 digs for the Pirates in 2015.
Maddie Goings, Sr., Aledo: The Oregon State commit was a TGCA all state and all star selection after 418 kills and 272 digs in 2015.
Erin Weiss, Sr., Aledo: District Setter MVP and TSWA all state had a whopping 1,510 assists and had 30 or more assists in 23 games.
Kailyn Gilbreath, Sr., Boswell: The UTA commit was last year’s District Offensive MVP after finishing with 459 kills, a .430 hitting percentage and 57 aces.
Jordan McCalla, Sr., Grapevine: The St. John’s commit had 406 kills and 415 digs, and named District Offensive MVP for regional finalist Mustangs.
Camryn Berryhill, Sr., Justin Northwest: First-team all-district led the Texans with 404 kills along with 263 digs and 51 aces.
Bailey Cagle, Sr., Justin Northwest: Second-team all-district and Northwestern Oklahoma State commit had 179 kills and 77 blocks.
Cameryn Zahradnik, Sr., Keller: UTA commit, first-team all-district and Star Telegram super team second team had 500 kills and 547 digs.
Emily Parker, Sr., Brewer: Finished last year with 859 assists and 309 digs.
Kayla Whetstone, Sr., Lamar: First-team all-district had 288 kills, 32 aces and 619 digs for the Vikings.
Tatum Ticknor, Sr., Colleyville Heritage: The Arkansas State commit and second-team all-district nod had 280 digs and 20 aces last season.
Jordan Lackey, Sr., Colleyville Heritage: Second team selection had 368 kills and 424 digs for Panthers.
Lauren Evans, Jr., Colleyville Heritage: The 5-foot-10 junior finished 2015 with 405 kills, 307 digs, 165 assists and 44 aces.
Katie Clark, Jr., Arlington: TCU commit was District Blocker of the Year in 2015 and made first-team Star Telegram super team with 642 kills.
Kylie Courtney, Jr., Boswell: Broke out on the volleyball scene with a school record 1,387 assists for district champ Pioneers.
Asjia O’Neal, Jr., Southlake Carroll: District Blocker of the Year in 2015 and Texas commit had 319 kills and 98 blocks.
Libby Hutyra, Jr., Birdville: Second team setter led Hawks with 717 assists, 280 digs and 61 aces last season.
Lauren Jenkins, Jr., Brewer: First-team all-district had 388 kills and 373 digs.
Cassidy Zellmer, Jr., Keller Fossil Ridge: 814 assists and 334 digs for the first-team all-district selection.
Alex Gholson, Jr., Keller: In her first year on varsity, Gholson had 324 kills, 241 digs and 29 aces.
Elle Duis, Jr., Byron Nelson: Had 28 aces and team-high 557 digs in 2015.
Capri Davis, Jr., Mansfield Lake Ridge: First-team all-district and Nebraska commit had 322 kills and 109 1/2 blocks for the Eagles.
Raeley Crosley, Jr., Kennedale: Last year’s Blocker of the Year had 159 kills and team-highs 104 blocks and .368 hitting percentage.
Symone Wesley, Soph., Grapevine: Had a terrific freshman year, District Newcomer in volleyball and basketball, and three-time district champ in track and field.