The sisterhood established by this year’s Trinity volleyball team is just a little different than it has been in the past few years, and the Lady Trojans think that team bond and added sense of accountability to one another is what will push Trinity to its first playoff win in more than six years.
The Lady Trojans (27-13) captured the fourth playoff seed from District 7-6A after finishing tied for third in the district standings and losing a coin flip to decide the playoff seeds between the two teams. Trinity has taken the fourth playoff seed into the playoffs for three straight years and has not made it past the bi-district round in that span.
This year the playoff test comes in the form of a matchup against Midlothian (26-15), which played itself into a three-way tie for first place with South Grand Prairie and DeSoto in District 8-6A after the regular season and took the first playoff seed from the district on a coin flip. The bi-district match is scheduled for Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and will be played at Arlington Seguin.
Trinity coach Mia Langi said that accountability has been a priority all season, and that is what makes her team different this year than the three previous.
“They know everyone has to be on the same page,” Langi said. “They know they have to do their job and they know what everyone else’s job on the floor is as well. They’re taking more responsibility for that.”
Her setter agrees.
“We’ve always stressed being a family, but this year’s team just bonded really quickly and that’s what has held us together,” setter Margaret Dean said.
Dean was one of the top setters in District 7-6A this season, not just for all the assists (676) she racked up in the regular season, but because of her versatility. The junior was also third on the team with 176 kills on offense and second on defense with 376 digs. Both Dean and Elli Merchant, listed on the Lady Trojans’ roster as a middle blocker, play all over the court for Langi, exemplifying the accountability that has become characteristic of the team.
“This year everyone has been a part of our success,” middle blocker Elli Merchant said. “As a team we’ve done everything we can do all year long, and we all take responsibility for doing that.”
Merchant led Trinity’s offense with 274 kills in the regular season, just in front of senior Zoe Howard’s 265. She was also instrumental in the front row, blocking 73 balls, which was second only to senior Abby Morphew’s 74.
But unlike other middles, Merchant consistently played the back row, too, and contributed to the Lady Trojan defense with 257 digs. That added responsibility was key for Trinity for the duration of the regular season, especially against the caliber of competition the Lady Trojans had to play to get to the palyoffs.
District winner Southlake Carroll was ranked No. 1 in the Texas Girls Coaches Association poll all year, and runner-up Coppell finished the regular season ranked No. 15.
“It’s helped us get a good idea of what playoff competition is,” defensive specialist Amanda McDowell said. “Playing against the Southlakes and the Coppells have really helped us grow as a team.”
McDowell was one of the area’s top defensive specialists in the regular season with 582 digs, but the Lady Trojans agree that their serve-receive game has to be on point to advance farther than any Lady Trojan team Langi has led thus far in her coaching career.
“They believe in each other,” Langi said. “It’s easy to see and we’re going to see how far that can carry us.”