Carroll wrapped up its second day of competition with a casual tournament championship.
The Golden Eagles opened their season later than most teams in the Wichita area, hosting a triangular Tuesday. But Carroll took down two-time defending state champion Rose Hill 25-21, 25-10 on Saturday in the Valley Center Tournament championship.
Carroll never trailed.
“They definitely are further than what I expected them to be,” coach Rita Mernagh said. “But to maintain that in volleyball is always the challenge.”
The Golden Eagles’ service was outstanding, and sophomore outside hitters Ella Larkin and Riley Daugherty were on point with their kills.
But Carroll’s defense was maybe most impressive, holding off Rose Hill’s all-state caliber players like Gracie Van Driel and Analisa Pennington. Senior libero Sarah Brittain and senior defensive specialist Brittyn Hipp were at their best.
Carroll is coming off a Kansas Class 5A state appearance in 2017. The Eagles went 1-2 and failed to reach the semifinals, but they brought almost everyone back this season, including four seniors in Brittain, Hipp, setter Rebecca Hageman and middle hitter Britney Ho.
Hipp said their chemistry is what has carried them to this point.
“We have played a lot with each other in the summer and in practice,” she said. “We just know each other really well.”
Carroll rolled through West, Hays and Campus to reach a virtual pool play championship against Valley Center. The Hornets stormed through the first set, but the Eagles reached back and won the final two sets to reach the final.
That first set against Valley Center was the only lost set of the day.
“We just got on a roll,” Brittain said. “And once we got on that roll, things just starting clicking and working out. A lot of it is dependent on our servicing, and once that was going good, our hitters started putting the ball away.”
Carroll is considered one of the favorites in the City League this season along with Kapaun and Heights. But in the Eagles’ opener Tuesday, they swamped Kapaun in straight sets.
Mernagh called Saturday’s tournament a “benchmark” for where her team is at early in the 2018 season. After starting 7-0 and dropping only one set, it’s safe to put the bar near the top shelf for now.
“There were quite a few ranked teams here, so it’s a good chance to see where we fit in,” Mernagh said. “I think it’s a great start for us.”