Northeast Tarrant

Volleyball teams have already accomplished a lot

Savannah Kjolhede has played well for Grapevine in the postseason.
Savannah Kjolhede has played well for Grapevine in the postseason.

Carroll’s and Grapevine’s volleyball programs are returning to familiar postseason territory. Colleyville Heritage is finally joining them after a short absence.

When teams advance to the Region I quarterfinals, that already represents a successful, deep run. There are only 32 teams in that particular classification breaking out the ball and setting up the net.

The Lady Dragons (41-6) played Allen in the Class 6A Region I quarterfinals Tuesday at Lake Dallas. Colleyville Heritage (35-8) faced Saginaw Boswell in the 5A Region I quarterfinals Tuesday at Northwest V.R. Eaton. Grapevine (33-14) met Aledo in another 5A Region I quarterfinal Tuesday at Keller Fossil Ridge.

Trips to the regional tournaments are the prize. The Class 6A tournament is Friday and Saturday in Glen Rose. The 5A tournament is Friday and Saturday at Abilene’s Kimbrell Arena.

At this time, everybody still playing is good. Matches will be decided by who can handle the pressure, execute efficiently and stay hot.

Carroll advanced to this round in 2015 where its season suddenly ended against McKinney Boyd. Grapevine cruised past this round in 2015 before it played Canyon Randall in the Region I finals. Colleyville Heritage hasn’t played in this round since 2013.

“We’re growing in every game and added different things offensively and defensively,” Colleyville Heritage coach Bri Barker-Groth said. “We’ve quickened our offense and been a little more aggressive on our serves. I’ve just told our girls that that you don’t have to be the best team in Texas. You just have to be the best team that night.”

If Colleyville Heritage won, Barker-Groth would likely face her mother in the regional semifinals. Jan Barker has been the head coach at Abilene for 30 years. Daughter played for mom from 2004-2007.

“We haven’t really talked about it,” Barker-Groth said. “But I knew that when I took the job, I could be seeing her in the fourth or fifth round.”

Oddly, Carroll has not faced Allen this fall. The two last saw each other in the 2015 6A area round, when Carroll swept. Not much has changed. The Lady Eagles have size at the net and have typically forced opponents to play a physical style.

Although Carroll swept Copperas Cove in the area round, head coach Ryan Mitchell said he felt like his team was flat. There could have been the emotional flat spot after knocking off Boyd in the bi-district round.

But the Carroll offense remains powerful between senior outside hitter Haley Hallgren and junior middle blocker Asjia O’Neal.

Had the Lady Dragons won, they would have met the winner of Arlington Lamar-El Paso Coronado in the regional tournament. Of course, Lewisville Hebron looms in the distance. Chances are those two likely would see each other in the regional final. That would be a fifth meeting with each team winning twice.

Grapevine coach Whitney Woody knows Aledo’s program, led by Kathy Goings. Woody faced it for two years when she coached at Burleson Centennial and those shared the same district.

“[Goings] runs a disciplined program and her players are extremely court mature,” Woody said. “They have been here before and look the part. They are a challenge to teams they play due to their experience and ability to adapt.”

Grapevine has been fueled by middle blocker Savannah Kjolhede, who has hit over .300 in the first two matches and has worked hard to be a top offensive weapon. Had Grapevine won, it would advance to play the winner of Randall and Hereford.