The window was becoming smaller and smaller for Weatherford during its volleyball regular season opener at Arlington on Tuesday night. Weatherford lost the opening set and then trailed 11-2 in the second.
But behind a pair of Texas A&M commits - seniors London Austin-Roark and Kaitlyn Rogers - the Kangaroos were able to right the ship and defeat the Colts 16-25, 26-24, 25-20, 25-18 to give new coach Nicholas Gay his first win with the program.
“Arlington is a really good and well-coached team, and they came out on their home court on fire,” said Gay, who came over from Denton Ryan. “We showed our toughness and made a couple of adjustments. The kids really worked hard and played some good 6-on-6 volleyball.”
The Colts (0-1) did come out on fire, going up 10-4 in the first set after a kill from senior Katie Clark, a TCU commit. Arlington kept its distance and won after Taryn Cates was able to get one over in the middle of the court.
Arlington’s momentum continued over to the next set, scoring the game’s first six points, and then led 11-2 before Gay called a timeout.
However, Weatherford (1-0) rallied with kills from Austin-Roark and Francine Merchant. The Roos got back with a 15-6 run and tied the game at 17-17. Both teams battled as the set produced ties from 17-17 to 24-24. Austin-Roark assisted on a block and then got a kill to make it 24-23. With set point in hand, the Roos and Colts rallied for 40 seconds until Carissa Barnes got a kill to tie the match.
“It helps us show that we’re putting in the work and getting results,” Austin-Roark said. “We have to keep pushing ourselves in everything we do.”
Austin-Roark, who was District 3-6A Hitter of the Year, had 384 kills last season as Weatherford shared the 3-6A title with Keller. Rogers was voted district setter of the year. The duo has been playing since the first grade.
“We’ve been best friends since then, and it’s great to be able to continue with the person you’ve played with all your life,” Austin-Roark said. “The connection is almost telepathical.”
Clark and Austin-Roark are two of the game’s best, and both had big-time kills early in the fourth set. Merchant got Weatherford within 16-15 with a slam, the Roos got ahead 20-18 that led to an Arlington timeout.
The Colts wouldn’t score again.
“You want to get pushed and everyone wants to win,” Gay said. “We got some big athletic kids and we’re learning how to win and be competitive as a team against some of the top teams.”
Aledo and Southlake Carroll, a couple of volleyball powers started the season Monday with wins over Waco Midway and Richardson Pearce, respectively.
The Ladycats got a 20-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-13 win for Gay’s wife, Claire Gay, who came over from Decatur. She replaces longtime coach Kathy Goings. North Texas commit Sarah Haeussler had a team-high 12 kills. Allegra Rivas and Sydney Casey had 33 and 20 digs, and Maggie Wackerhagen put in 27 assists.
Carroll, going without one of the top players Texas commit Asjia O’Neal - who decided to sit her senior season - dropped the first set to Pearce, but bounced back 23-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-17.
Timber Creek, Cleburne, LD Bell, Saginaw Chisholm Trail , Euless Trinity, Justin Northwest, Grapevine, Byron Nelson, Castleberry, South Hills, Arlington Heights, Western Hills, Birdville, Keller Central, Martin, Lamar, Mansfield Summit, Colleyville Heritage, Glen Rose, Midlothian Heritage are other area winners.
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