For those non-volleyball fans – they may have guessed Tuesday night’s game between Southlake Carroll and Hebron was for a trip to the state tournament.
Instead it was the playoff opener for both schools.
Carroll did what it couldn’t do in 2016 along with nearly 20 other teams – knock Hebron out.
The Dragons swept the three-time defending 6A state champs 27-25, 25-23, 25-22 at Lake Dallas, ending Hebron’s 21-game playoff winning streak.
“We were really confident and worked hard in the past couple practices, and were prepared once we stepped onto the court tonight,” senior setter and TCU commit McKenzie Nichols said.
Carroll (36-9) couldn’t have had a better start, controlling Game 1, and went ahead 24-14.
But Hebron (26-17) won state the past three years for a reason – moments like this. The Hawks held off 10 set points to even the score. The game was tied again at 25-25 before junior middle blocker Annabelle Smith gave the Dragons a 1-0 lead.
“We definitely played well for the majority of the set – just the end we couldn’t close it out. That hasn’t been an issue for us this year, so I think it was unique that we had to figure out how to finish it off,” said Smith, who registered 13 kills and five blocks.
“Once Hebron started coming back, my kids really thought ‘oh this is Hebron and this is for real, it’s going to be a match’ and the girls were able to dig a little deeper at the end,” Carroll coach Teresa Dunn said.
“You hate to see this type of matchup early – both our districts are among the most competitive in the state – but this allows you to be battled tested for down the road,” Dunn added.
The tables were turned in the second and third games with Carroll trailing. The Dragons fell behind 8-3 when junior Hannah Lee made an incredible diving save followed by a strike from sophomore Alyssa Pliskal. Carroll was forced to call a second timeout when the Hawks led 19-14 after a couple kills from their Florida State commit, Emma Clothier.
But the Dragons rallied starting with a hard-hitting dig from Keagan Polk which led to a kill from senior Harper Hallgren, who’s committed to play beach at Southern Cal. Hallgren, who finished with seven kills and 10 digs, added another point down the line to push the Dragons lead to 2-0.
“At no point when they were down 1, 5 or 6 points, did they ever feel defeated or out of it and I commend the girls for that. They continued to battle,” Dunn said.
A few errors by Carroll pushed Hebron in front 13-9 in the third game, but once again the Dragons came back to take a 17-15 lead after Hallgren’s solo block.
“Hebron is a great team so we had to fight for every point and just want it more than they did,” said senior Kendall Gilpin, who finished with six digs.
The Dragons will face Lake Highlands (29-12) in the second round.
Colleyville Heritage 3, Lake Dallas 0
Senior setter Grace Koper reached 3,000 career assist as the Panthers knocked off the Falcons 25-17, 25-15, 25-16 in the 5A Region I bi-district round from Byron Nelson.
The Panthers (28-13) will play Mansfield Legacy (27-17), which swept Carter-Riverside on Monday.
Koper finished with a game-high 32 assists while Ashley McKillop led with 11 kills. Jill Dickens and Kaci Monk added 10. Tulane commit Jillian Dits added 19 digs.
Boswell 3, Denton 1
If the season had ended 11 days ago, Boswell would have missed the playoffs. The Pioneers won their last regular season game on Oct. 23 to force a tiebreaker, and then won that on Friday. Now the program is headed to the second round.
Boswell upset District 8-5A champ Denton 25-19, 25-19, 24-26, 25-16 to win a 5A Region I bi-district title.
Boswell (23-20) gets Granbury (28-18), which swept North Side on Monday.