Northeast Tarrant

Lady Panthers, Mustangs look for higher intensity in playoffs

In August, Colleyville Heritage volleyball coach Jamie Siegel talked with her team about the deep playoff runs of 2012 and 2013.

Each pursuit ended just shy of making the state tournament. In 2012, Colleyville Heritage fell to Coppell in the Region I championship. Last year, the Lady Panthers lost to Carroll in the same spot.

Nothing is guaranteed, but the focus to clear the last hurdle is intense for the trio of Anna Walsh, Maddie Jones and Alex Janak. The Lady Panthers (34-9, 12-0 in District 7-6A) began their pursuit of the Class 6A state tournament Tuesday against Cedar Hill in the Region I bi-district round at Mansfield Summit. A victory would have meant advancing to the area round where they would face the winner of Keller-Flower Mound.

The game was played after the press deadline; see for results.

Colleyville Heritage played warmup match against Granbury last Friday and won that by scores of 25-17, 25-16, 25-10. Siegel credited a fast start and her team sticking to fundamentals for the dominant performance.

“This is a mental game,” Siegel said. “For some players, they do value the trips to the quarterfinals. We haven’t talked about 2012 and 2013 since the season began. By no means is there any complacency. We’re uncomfortable. If you’re comfortable, then you stop working. These girls have been hard after it, day in and day out.”

Had the Lady Panthers won Tuesday, they would have had familiarity with Flower Mound but not with Keller. Colleyville Heritage lost its season opener to Flower Mound but won the final three meetings between the tournaments in Pearland and Arlington. The team was without Maddie Jones for the first three contests.

Walsh’s level

Walsh, the senior middle blocker is likely to win District 7-6A Most Valuable Player honors. She’s been an enforcer both at the net offensively and allowing her other teammates to make plays.

And the statistics back it up. She’s hitting at an amazing 47 percent and is averaging more than five kills per game. Walsh is connecting on kills at 58 percent. This is the time of year where the best players must play their best.

“She’s definitely stepping up,” Siegel said. “Not only does she take control with the ball with her share of kills, she opens up the floor for everybody else. She does a great job at the block. You can see her push herself.”

Grapevine update

The Lady Mustangs (30-13, 12-0 District 6-5A) went through district play without dropping a game and really not being pushed at any time.

They opened the playoffs on Tuesday against Azle in the Class 5A Region I bi-district round at Haltom. Had they won, they would advance to the area round to play the winner of Burleson-Fort Worth Arlington Heights.

With a full week between matches, the Lady Mustangs began preparing for the Lady Hornets. All week, first-year coach Kori Cooper talked about playing the game with a different brand of mental toughness. It wasn’t that her team had not been there. But the playoffs do require something different because of the finality every match presents.

“Our goal was to win district and we did that,” Cooper said. “We knew the possibility was there to be a great team in district but our girls didn’t ever feel like that was a given. They worked for this. But we also know that the playoffs are asking for a new mentality.”

Had both Grapevine and Burleson both won, it would create a rematch from an August meeting in the Northwest ISD tournament. Grapevine won in three games.