The playoffs are cruel. Even with a team that believes it is good enough to win a state championship, all it takes is one off night and the season can end.
Carroll’s volleyball program ran into that reality on Nov. 10 against McKinney Boyd in the Class 6A Region I quarterfinals at the Culwell Center in Garland. An odd match had a frustrating finish. McKinney Boyd won the fifth and deciding game, 15-13, to advance to the Region I tournament in Glen Rose.
Carroll closed its season at 43-4.
The Lady Dragons had built a team that looked poised to play in Garland the weekend before Thanksgiving. It featured a deep offense, strength in the middle and a stingy back row. Boyd’s unorthodox grinding and defensive style didn’t do much to bother Carroll. It was its blocking that turned the momentum of the match.
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“They just blocked really well, which is something that the scouting reports didn’t show and what we had seen when we scouted them,” Carroll coach Ryan Mitchell said. “But their blocking kind of controlled things. But part of it was errors. Some of them were things they did to us. Some of them were things we did.”
Even when Carroll fell behind 2-1 in games, Mitchell never wavered in the belief that his team was going to emerge victorious. The Lady Dragons won the fourth game, 25-23.
On the deciding point in the fifth game, Boyd served. Carroll’s system fed junior Haley Hallgren, who tried for the equalizing kill. But the Boyd defense successfully foiled Hallgren’s effort with a block and finished Carroll’s season.
“I trusted and believed in this team and thought it was going to break out of its funk,” Mitchell said. “I felt this team was a special team. It had the ability and the talent to get to state. For whatever reason, we picked the wrong night to have an off night. If you don’t bring your A-game, you’re going home.
“It is sad things didn’t work out. I really liked this team. It was full of girls who wanted to get better. They had great attitudes. I hated it for them.”
Saying good-bye & the offseason
Carroll bids farewell to four seniors in outside hitters Remy Fairchild, Megan Porter, libero Brayden Gruenewald and middle blocker Elizabeth Augustini. Last week, three signed letters of intent to play in college. Fairchild signed with Villanova. Porter signed with Texas State. Gruenewald signed with Alabama-Birmingham’s beach volleyball program.
“It’s exciting for them because they did well and helped make this program very successful,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said the offseason will focus on finding new options for the pins and looking for a new libero to help run the defense. There is a strong nucleus returning in sophomore middle blocker Asjia O’Neal, junior setters Lisie Kit and Sheridan Webb, and junior Nailah Gordon. The key figure returning is junior outside hitter Hallgren.
District 7-6A honors
With Carroll eliminated, the 7-6A team was released. Hallgren was named MVP. O’Neal earned blocker of the year. Kit was setter of the year. Porter, Fairchild and Gruenewald were named to the first team.