This “qualifying for the playoffs” thing is something Grapevine coach Kori Cooper wants to become a habit.
Grapevine (26-12, 8 -0 in District 5-6A) clinched a playoff berth last week after defeating both Birdville and Fort Worth Dunbar. And the Lady Mustangs still have yet to surrender a game in district play.
“First of all, I didn’t get into the playoffs, the team did,” Cooper said. “They bought into what we were asking. They’re not settling for what just happened. We’re working to achieve some more goals.
“We always talk about expectations. We’ve been talking about the postseason from the moment I got here. We want more. This team has the internal drive. They know what they’re capable of doing. But they also know they have to get it to another gear.”
There was no question that Cooper inherited a very talented roster. However, her arrival two weeks before the season started, trying to implement a style and philosophy, and getting to know players’ strengths and weaknesses was no easy chore.
The other plus is that this roster is diverse, as there are five seniors, five juniors and four sophomores. With so many players coming from a club background, they have a pretty good feel for playing the game.
“We do a pretty good job scoring out of our system,” Cooper said. “What I mean by that is you have to play second balls that the setter doesn’t hit. We still find a way to get points, so that’s pretty resourceful for us.”
The season continued Tuesday at Fort Worth Eastern Hills. Grapevine is using Friday’s second bye date for a non-district match at Decatur.
The 6-2 is working
Cooper has been pleased with the way 6-2 has been flowing between setters Renee Townsend and senior Chandler Coolbaugh.
But Cooper made one switch recently. Instead of starting matches with Townsend and sophomore middle hitter Hailey Johnson, she’s using Coolbaugh and senior Abby Lawton.
“I just wanted two seniors to start the match because I like the experience and leadership there,” Cooper said. “We have great communication with either. But I think that makes a difference.”
Colleyville Heritage playoffs-bound
Programs as successful as Colleyville Heritage has been don’t take playoff appearances for granted. They understand the journey takes dedication, even though it’s an expectation.
However, Lady Panthers coach Jamie Siegel wasn’t aware that her squad had even qualified for the 2014 playoffs until she was told over the weekend. Colleyville Heritage defeated Haltom and Richland last week. The program (28-9, 8-0 in District 7-6A) has made the postseason in each of Siegel’s six seasons.
“We won’t bring [the playoffs] up because we take this thing match-by-match. That’s the way we have to do it,” Siegel said. “It’s just a product of the girls working hard day in and day out and giving you their all. They are the ones performing and deserve the opportunity.”
The Lady Panthers continued their season Tuesday with a likely tense match at third-place Coppell (6-2) and Friday at Hurst L.D. Bell. Colleyville Heritage beat Coppell in five games in the first meeting on Sept. 19. It was a match in which they were nearly swept. They lost the first two games and trailed late in the third game before rallying.