UPDATE: Grapevine and Colleyville Heritage have advanced to the area round of the playoffs. The Lady Mustangs take on Burleson Centennial at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Saginaw High. The Lady Panthers face Plano at 7 p.m. Friday at Little Elm.
It wasn’t the finish to the regular season the Colleyville Heritage wanted, but head coach Hollie Huston knows how to flip a coin.
Huston won the flip for the No. 3 seed in District 7-6A against Euless Trinity as the Lady Panthers (20-23, 7-5) faced South Grand Prairie in the Class 6A Region I bi-district round Tuesday against Arlington Lamar. Prior to that, Colleyville Heritage fell in four games against Argyle in its warmup match this past Friday.
The work didn’t change. The sense of urgency did. For every postseason team in Texas, these are one-game seasons. Colleyville Heritage continued to focus on its defensive work, an aspect of this team that became inconsistent toward the end. But the reality was also that this team was going to have to play a more cohesive brand of volleyball.
“The elephant in the room for us was that we are not going to out-skill anyone,” Huston said. “When we played Hebron, they had several Division I players on their team. We saw that against Coppell and Carroll. For us, we were going to have to win a different way. Everybody understands that.”
But Huston saw that slowly coming together prior to the match against Argyle. Intensity in practice picked up. Playing the ball off of great saves – Huston said her team sometimes reacted well to those and sometimes didn’t – improved.
As the District 8-6A web untangled to where the Lady Panthers wound up meeting the Lady Warriors, Huston said she didn’t mind a couple of days of the unknown.
“We just needed to keep everything on us,” Huston said. “It’s been great. When you know who you are playing for a long time, you might spend too much time catering to the needs trying to beat them than worry about things you need to do.”
If this team was going to make a move in the postseason, Huston said it was going to come down to her freshmen playing like veterans. Middle blocker Jill Dickens has become more consistent from the right side with her block. Huston said she also needs a solid performance from freshman middle blocker Ashley McKillop.
“Our youngsters need to take on the mentality of our upper classmen,” Huston said. “But it’s going to be a short playoff run if we get outworked.”
Had Colleyville Heritage won, it would meet the winner of Denton Guyer-Plano in the area round.
The Lady Mustangs (29-16, 12-0 in 6-5A) had to wait until late Friday before they knew they were going to play Wichita Falls in the Class 5A Region I bi-district round Tuesday at Justin Northwest.
Grapevine was looking for its 30th win and trying to make a run to the Region I tournament in Abilene. The 2014 team advanced to the Region I quarterfinals.
It was also a reunion for head coach Kori Cooper. The Amarillo High graduate was a senior at AHS when Wichita Falls coach Torri Campbell was a freshman. They then opposed each other in the Big 12 when Cooper played at Nebraska and Campbell played at Baylor.
“It’s comforting to know that our seniors Taylor Kress and Payton Gidney are playing really well,” Cooper said. “I really feel like our freshmen have made a smooth transition. They all play for club teams. Our middle school coaches did a great job getting them ready.
“The best thing is that our upper classmen brought them in immediately. There was no animosity. Then, they’ve played to expectations.”
If Grapevine won, it would meet the winner of Burleson-Fort Worth Western Hills in the area round. Region I is very deep between Aledo, Granbury and then the West Texas powers in Dumas and Canyon Randall.
“We’re going to have a deep playoff run if we stay healthy and are focused,” Cooper said. “It’ll be a short playoff run if we succumb to unforced errors.”
Payton Gidney is expected to sign her national letter of intent with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s sand volleyball program next week.