Hired in the spring, Bri Barker-Groth was tasked with repairing everything within the Colleyville Heritage volleyball program before it was time for her players to pick up a ball.
A strife-filled 2015 led to the abrupt departure head coach Hollie Huston. Time will tell if everything has been fully mended.
However, the Lady Panthers have done enough to become district champions. Following a sweep of rival Grapevine this past Friday, Colleyville Heritage (32-8, 13-0 District 8-5A) won the outright district championship.
The regular season concluded Tuesday with a match against Fort Worth Eastern Hills. Colleyville Heritage will open the bi-district playoffs next week against Fort Worth South Hills, the fourth-place team from 7-5A. Arrangements are pending.
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“It’s taken some healing for sure,” Barker-Groth said. “I made it a point to the girls that this was a clean slate. The biggest thing they had to do was find the love for the game.
“There was no point doing it if they couldn’t find the passion. I challenged them to find the passion. You can tell where we’re at. They play for each and I’d like to think they play for me. I definitely coach for them. The healing has been there and the passion is back.”
Colleyville Heritage received strong performances from senior libero Tatum Ticknor and outside hitter Lauren Evans. But Barker-Groth called it a collective effort.
Barker-Groth said she would like to find a warmup match for Friday, but said it wasn’t mandatory. She would substitute a match for a couple of rigorous practices toward the end of the week.
“When you go into a rivalry match, you don’t expect to sweep it,” Barker-Groth said. “You expect it to go four or five games. Our mindset is that we have to fight from the beginning. We came out on fire. I don’t think we played our best game. But we executed.”
Grapevine (30-14, 11-2 District 8-5A): The Lady Mustangs know they are in sole possession of second place. Of course, that’s not where they wanted to be. They wanted to have a chance to tie for the district championship.
That said, the Lady Mustangs finished the regular season on Tuesday against Fort Worth Dunbar. They know they are going to play the third-place team out of District 7-5A between Fort Worth Trimble Tech or Fort Worth Eastern Hills.
Carroll (37-6, 12-1 District 5-6A): The Lady Dragons concluded the regular season on Tuesday against Euless Trinity. Had they won and if Lewisville Hebron won its season finale against Hurst L.D. Bell, the Lady Dragons and Lady Hawks would share the district title and meet in a playoff to determine the district’s top seed. This would be the fourth meeting between the two sides. Hebron has won two.
There are serious implications with that match. The winner will have to get through either Plano or Plano West in the bi-district round. But if the loser of this match emerges through the bi-district round, it likely would see the state’s No. 1 Class 6A team in Waco Midway in the area round.
“Really, the first three rounds of the playoffs are going to be really tough,” Carroll coach Ryan Mitchell said. “Whoever comes out of Region I to get to the state tournament will have earned it.”