Sometimes, a team can play a pretty solid match. It can execute at a pretty high level and minimize mistakes.
And it’s not good enough to win.
As Carroll (44-4) learned in the Class 6A Region I semifinals last week in Glen Rose, it didn’t have to feel bad about its performance. Amarillo turned out to be just better. And that’s why the Sandies are on their way to the state volleyball tournament in Garland this weekend.
Carroll’s season ended in a 25-23, 27-18, 27-25 loss.
“Amarillo played a really clean game and were just tough to beat,” Carroll coach Ryan Mitchell said. “We put a lot of pressure on them. But any time the game was close, they would make the big play that helped them to separate the game.
“Ultimately, we made too many mistakes. But in saying that, we didn’t play bad either. We played a good match. We just did not play a perfect match.”
Ironically, the Lady Dragons’ four losses were divided between two teams, Amarillo and Colleyville Heritage. They lost twice to each. Carroll lost to Amarillo the first time in finals of the Plano tournament back in August.
“I don’t think Amarillo is the kind of team that we were going to have to play above ourselves in order to win,” Mitchell said. “We were just going to have to play with some consistency. We were up and down this year. That was one of our flaws this year. When we were great, no one could touch us. When we weren’t, anyone could touch us.”
Carroll’s season came down to several highlights. The Lady Dragons won the Pearland Tournament and the Justin Northwest ISD tournament in August. They also swept rival Coppell, including a five-set match on the regular season finale that fueled some momentum going into the playoffs.
Any coach understands that when he or she comes to Carroll, nothing will do beyond great postseason runs and state championships.
While this team did not go as far as the 2013 squad that played in the then-Class 5A state tournament, Mitchell’s arrival seemed to heal a fractured community. Former coach Arthur Stanfield was removed as head coach.
But no one set the bar for expectations higher than Mitchell, who won five consecutive state championships at Lucas Lovejoy before he came to Carroll. That said, there is a difference between the top programs in 6A and 5A. Plus, Region I was really deep this year.
“Any time you go to a place like Southlake or you come from a place like Lovejoy, your expectations are to go to the state championships,” Mitchell said. “You want to filter your goals that the attitude is to win championships. We didn’t accomplish that but we still had success and a great year. We played really good in the postseason, but we got beat by a team better than us.”
Carroll’s team loses some valued seniors in outside hitters Paige Panter, Madison Drescher and Maiya Burns, libero Mykah Wilson and setter McKenzie Brewer. But there is a solid transition in the returners between junior outside hitters Megan Porter and Haley Hallgren, junior middle blocker Elizabeth Augustini and sophomore Lisie Kit.
“We definitely have a lot to look forward to,” Mitchell said.
Note: Carroll’s girls basketball season began last week. The Lady Dragons went 4-1 and won Colleyville Heritage’s tournament. We will transition to basketball in detail for our Nov. 26 edition.