Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Elite volleyball teams are bunched together in realigned 5-5A
The Coppell volleyball team should be pretty familiar with its opponents in the new District 5-5A.
The Cowgirls defeated three of their five new district foes — Flower Mound, Hebron and Flower Mound Marcus — during the Class 5A playoffs last season.
Some of the best teams and players in Texas are in District 5-5A, including the last two state champions — Coppell and Hebron.
“There’s a lot of good volleyball in the metroplex,” Coppell coach Julie Green said, “and our district is saturated with it.”
Coppell will host Hebron for its 5-5A opener at 6:30 p.m. Friday. The Cowgirls trounced the Hawks earlier this season at the Pearland Tournament, 25-16, 25-12.
Hebron coach Karin Keeney hopes not to let that happen again.
“We were shell-shocked off the court,” she said. “My goal is we’re going to compete, somehow, some way.”
Not many teams have gotten the better of Coppell. The Cowgirls are SportsDay’s top-ranked team and ranked No. 3 in the state by the Texas Girls Coaches Association.
The Cowgirls are 33-2 overall, with their only losses coming against No. 1 San Antonio Reagan and No. 2 Southlake Carroll.
With four players committed to major college programs, Coppell will be the favorite in the district. But several talented teams will be gunning for the top spot.
Flower Mound has a trio of college-bound players and is off to a 23-6 start.
Hebron and Marcus will battle Lewisville and 5A newcomer Denton Ryan for the remaining playoff spots.
Lewisville, which hasn’t won a district game in several years, hired Libby Rodriguez to take over the program. Rodriguez spent the last four years in Pampa, where she led the Lady Harvesters to the regional quarterfinals in 2010.
“Their expectations are really high for each other and for themselves,” Rodriguez said. “That took a lot of work.”
Keller runners improving: The Keller boys cross country team hasn’t been to state in more than a decade, and the Indians are tired of middle-of-the-pack finishes at the regional meet.
So juniors Austen Dalquist and Jake McConnell talked to coach Brian Zaring about reaching their potential.
“They all said, ‘We want to be elite,’” Zaring said. “I said, ‘OK, if you want to be elite, then this is how we’re going to get there.’”
Zaring increased the team’s mileage and intensity, and it’s paying off. Keller has won its last three meets, including last weekend’s Northwest Ken Garland Invitational.
Staff writer Michael Florek contributed to this report.
Friday’s District 5-5A volleyball openers:
Hebron at Coppell, 6:30 p.m.
Denton Ryan at FM Marcus, 6:30 p.m.
Flower Mound at Lewisville, 6:30 p.m.
Ten District 5-5A volleyball players have made oral commitments to play in college:
E. Tenn. St.