For the second straight season, Birdville and Justin Northwest met up to begin the Texas high school volleyball playoffs.
Different teams, different year, same result.
Trailing in the fourth set and down 2-1, the Hawks surged back to knock out the Texans in five, 22-25, 25-18, 22-25, 25-11, 15-11 in a 5A Region 1 bi-district game on Tuesday night at LD Bell High School.
“Not a bad way to start the playoffs,” Birdville coach Cynthia Rinehart said. “We got Northwest again and they’re such a good team. Why not start the playoffs like this? This will only help us with the tougher games coming up.”
Northwest led 2-1 and with sights on its first playoff win since 2016, the Texans led 19-15 in the fourth set. But Birdville called time and responded when it came back on the court, scoring the next four points and seven of nine to take a 22-20 lead.
Then the Hawks never trailed the Texans in the fifth.
“The girls set the message after that fourth game,” Rinehart said. “Those seniors didn’t want to go home. They didn’t want it to be over.”
“Our message in the huddle was never give up,” added Ashanti Frazier, who had a game-high six blocks. “We had to stay up the whole time and stay positive no matter what happened.”
Birdville advances to the area round to face District 5-5A champ Burleson at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Cleburne.
Burleson beat FW Eastern Hills in bi-district.
“We’ve been this way all year long, it’s built into us. We’ve had our rough moments in the beginning of the season, but the girls continued to work hard every day,” Rinehart said.
“This is going to motivate us to come out stronger in our next game,” added Addison Kahle, who had 10 kills. “It helps to play a good team, it will push us to play better.”
Said Frazier, “This game will give us mental toughness.”
The Hawks were tested early when the Texans got out to an early lead in the first set. Birdville fought back and forced Northwest to take both timeouts after an ace at 17-15 and a Frazier block at 21-19.
But the Hawks hit a ball into the net to give the Texans a 25-22 victory.
Northwest led early in the second, but Addison Kahle started a Birdville rally that would see the Hawks score four straight points to take a 18-15 lead.
Younger sister Caroline Kahle registered two straight points to extend the lead to 21-17 before a Tori Burns’ ace tied the match at one apiece.
“That took a lot of work. This wasn’t our first five-setter of the year,” Addison Kahle said. “We had so much fight and we didn’t want to lose.”
Birdville controlled the early stages of the third set with 5-2, 11-8 and 18-13 leads, the last coming after a kill from Price Reeves, who finished with 14.
The Texans finished on a 12-4 run to take a 2-1 edge.
“Shows us what we need to work on during practice, what to build on,” Burns said. “We’ve worked hard all year long and this team has a great bond that brings us together.”
Birdville’s Maya Duckworth, last year’s newcomer of the year, and Northwest’s Makenna Miller, two of the top sophomores in DFW, both finished with 19 kills. Burns recorded 30 assists and four aces. Caroline Kahle led all players with 21 digs along with seven kills and four aces.
Morgan Andress, in her final game in the red and white, nearly picked up a triple double for Northwest with 23 assists, 10 kills and eight digs. Aubri Kisner had 11 kills for the Texans, who finished second in District 8-5A. Miller and Daylee Doggett added 16 and 15 digs.
Arlington ended the regular season in a three-way tie for second place in District 4-6A, but the Colts lost to Lamar in the first of two seeding games (along with Paschal) to get No. 4 and a date with 3-6A champion and 2018 regional semifinalist Weatherford.
The Colts beat all odds, avenged a 2017 playoff loss and knocked out the Kangaroos 25-23, 23-25, 14-25, 25-15, 15-13 in a 6A Region 1 bi-district game at Eaton HS.
“It’s sweet revenge after getting swept in 2017. We couldn’t be prouder of our team,” said Arlington’s only senior Sydney Niederhaus. “I’m so happy my high school career isn’t over yet.”
Niederhaus, who is among the area’s leaders in kills this season, led the Colts with 17 kills, 22 digs and seven aces.
Arlington picked up its first playoff win since 2015, so it’s the first for Niederhaus in her four years.
“The loss to Lamar was truly heartbreaking. We really wanted to beat them to prove to ourselves we could, but we didn’t let it get us down and in practice we worked harder then we ever have,” said Niederhaus, who is a player of the week winner this season. “We knew it would be a hard fight to knock them out. We were all ready for whatever came our way. We truly proved to ourselves and everyone what we can really do.”
The Colts look to keep their run going when they play Midland in the area round at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Abilene Cooper HS.
“It’s so rewarding and exciting. I’m happy that I was able to experience this with a team who has never been to playoffs. This feeling is so incredible that there’s no way it’s going anywhere,” Niederhaus said.
Ellie Williams and Ella Taylor had 10 kills apiece for Arlington. Betty Gonzalez led the team with 25 digs and Sara Carrizales added 20. Tatum Torres finished with 16.
Setter Chloe Beard registered a double-double with 34 assists, 10 digs, five kills and two blocks.
Euless Trinity knocked off Arlington Lamar to pick up the program’s first playoff win since 1995. The Trojans advance to the 6A Region 1 area round to face Amarillo Tascosa at 6 p.m. Friday at Vernon HS.
Lake Worth ended its 16-year drought with its first playoff win since 2003. The Bullfrogs defeated Arlington Summit International 25-16, 25-13, 25-9. Zoe Young led all players with 10 kills and Breanne Mcneil added eight. Jarelly Pacheco had 10 digs and Bianca Perez had a game-high 30 assists. Lake Worth goes to the 4A Region 2 area round to play Celina at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Grapevine.
Other DFW teams to end droughts included Denton Guyer and North Forney (2014). McKinney Boyd, Denton, Burleson Centennial and Creekview all got their first playoff wins since 2015.
Boswell took care of business against Lake Dallas, 25-9, 25-16, 25-19 to advance to the 5A Region 1 area round. The Pioneers will play Burleson Centennial at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Mansfield Summit.
The Pioneers recorded 18 aces, highlighted by six from senior libero Emily Ah Leong. The game was played at the University of North Texas, which is where Ah Leong will play next season.
“Playing at UNT was so exciting and a little nerve racking, but it was so surreal playing in the gym that will be my home in two months,” said Ah Leong, who had 19 digs. “This gives us more momentum going forward and it’s another step closer to state.”
Games to Watch
Byron Nelson vs. Waxahachie; Mansfield vs. Southlake Carroll; Flower Mound vs. Lake Ridge — all six teams are or have been ranked in the Texas Girls Coaches Association 6A state rankings this season.