Northeast Tarrant

Lady Dragons look to finish strong, win district

Southlake Carroll's Lauren Johnson and the Lady Dragons will try to seal up a championship in a very challenging district.
Southlake Carroll's Lauren Johnson and the Lady Dragons will try to seal up a championship in a very challenging district. Special to the Star-Telegram

Southlake Carroll’s volleyball program has been through countless big matches in its history. That also counts for regular season rematches.

On Tuesday, the Lady Dragons (34-5, 9-0) had to defend sole possession of first place in District 5-6A when they met second-place Lewisville Hebron, which trailed by one game.

The contrast in the outcome would have been enormous yet still given the Lady Dragons control of their destiny. A loss would have meant a tie. However, a win would have given Carroll a two-game lead with four matches to play. Given how the Lady Dragons have dominated the rest of the district, they could have clinched a playoff position by Tuesday. They have already clinched a tie for a spot.

This meeting with the Lady Hawks was theoretically the rubber match. Hebron beat Carroll in the Allen tournament in August, a match Carroll coach Ryan Mitchell called one his program really needed. Carroll won the second meeting, an epic five-game match at Hebron on Sept. 16.

Carroll easily handled Lewisville this past Friday and plays at Flower Mound Marcus on Friday. It’s one thing to win. It’s another to play at a higher level.

“I like the idea that when you have a big match on the horizon, you are playing clean going into it,” Mitchell said. “We played a lot of people Friday. Everybody handled their assignment well. Since the minute [after beating Lewisville], we turned our attention toward Hebron.”

When Carroll won at Hebron, this team was just welcoming back senior outside hitter Haley Hallgren back to the net. Hallgren had been dealing with an abdominal strain which limited her to playing libero.

“Offensively, she’s looking so much better and so is our offense,” Mitchell said. “She’s swinging better and making very good decisions on where to put the ball. But every game takes a new direction. We’ve got to be prepared for various things happening and practice for them.”

Mitchell used a 5-1 alignment against the Lady Hawks and said he would evaluate everything to determine how he wanted to approach Tuesday.

Grapevine (27-13, 8-1 District 8-5A): The Lady Mustangs were on the verge of clinching a playoff berth this week but are going through their most challenging week as they played at Birdville on Tuesday and will travel to Richland on Friday.

“We’re not finding our stride yet but in a sense, we are in a pretty good spot,” coach Whitney Woody side. “Offensively, we’re taking a few more risks and speeding up on the way we play. That’s going to be a focus of ours for the rest of the season. What I like is that we’re knowing when to use finesse and when to take risks. We’ve had great weeks from Jordan [McCalla] and Symone Wesley.”

One move that seems to be paying off is keeping freshman Savannah Kjolhede (6-2) at middle blocker. Kjolhede had been rotating between right side and the middle before the coaching staff kept her one spot following the Sept. 27 match against Colleyville Heritage.

Colleyville Heritage (28-8, 9-0 District 8-5A): Colleyville Heritage clinched a playoff spot last week, but head coach Bri Barker-Groth wasn’t very happy with the way her squad played against Fort Worth Carter-Riverside, and then the team dropped a game against Birdville.

“It wasn’t a good week,” Barker-Groth said. “We’ve been in a slump and some things have been monotonous. That happens when you play some teams that don’t play at high a level as you want. We haven’t been very good passing and being present in what we’re doing. But it’s also on us to get out of this.”

Colleyville Heritage played Richland at home on Tuesday and plays host to Fort Worth Polytechnic on Friday.