The Carroll volleyball team began the second half of the District 7-6A season on Tuesday in unfamiliar territory: second place.
A stunning four-set loss to Colleyville Heritage on Sept. 30 put the Lady Dragons (35-2, 5-1) in a position where they have to play catch-up with the Lady Panthers (6-0). But the week ended with an impressive three-game sweep of Coppell on Friday.
“They played really sharp against Coppell,” Carroll coach Ryan Mitchell said. “It was probably our most complete performance in about the last month. The girls sensed the urgency and really made good decisions. When shots were there to take Coppell out of their system, they took them. When they didn’t, they didn’t.”
Carroll began the second half Tuesday against Hurst L.D. Bell and plays at Richland Friday. As the regular season enters the home stretch, Mitchell said he was not going to change too much until the final three matches against Euless Trinity, Colleyville Heritage and Coppell. Carroll and those programs are expected to be in the playoffs.
“We need to use the next two weeks to improve on us,” Mitchell said. “But then it’s a matter of us gearing up for the last three matches. It’s a tougher stretch because we lost a game to Trinity and lost to Colleyville Heritage. But I think it’s going to work for us, because we need it as we start preparing for the playoffs.”
Tipping your cap
Sometimes, competitors appreciate the opposition. Mitchell believed he had the right plan against Colleyville Heritage’s imposing 6-3 middle blocker Anna Walsh in the Sept. 30 meeting. He placed Madison Drescher opposite of Walsh at the net.
For a while the strategy seemed to work. Walsh experienced some difficulties in the first game. The second game seemed to be a push. Then Walsh took over in the final two games. She finished with 19 kills.
“Anna is a great competitor, and she showed why she’s a great player,” Mitchell said. “She looked frustrated in the first game. But then like any good player, she was able to make the adjustments and score. I coached her several years ago. I want what’s best for her 99 percent of the time, except when she plays against us.”
Senior Maiya Burns has been a pretty good presence in the back row for the Carroll defense. Mitchell has been using Burns quite a bit in the back to help the defense keep rallies alive. Meanwhile, senior libero Mykah Wilson has enjoyed a pretty consistent season to this point. For starters, her individual passing rating is 2.5 (anything above 2.3 is considered strong). Plus, she’s provided a vocal presence to keep Carroll’s offense efficient.
“For me, your libero has to be really strong with the serve receive,” Mitchell said. “She keeps us in the system. She understands how to manipulate things so her players can find a way to get the job done. I’ve really liked the way she has come on throughout the season. We’re going to need that the further the season goes.”