The next stop for three Glen Rose High School Lady Tiger volleyball players competing with a summer club team based in Carrollton are heading to the USA Volleyball Association’s national tournament in Detroit.
Incoming GRHS seniors Libby Hinton, Logan Smith and Mallory Rogers helped lead TAV (Texas Advantage Volleyball) 17 Blue to the title in the Lone Star Classic National Qualifier held in Dallas in April. They won all 10 of their matches to qualify for the nationals, June 30-July 3 at the Detroit Convention Center.
Last summer, Smith and Hinton along with Glen Rose player Madison Mooney were teammates on a squad known as Tejas 16.1 Club that earned third place in the USA Volleyball Girls Junior Nationals 16 Division tournament held in Minneapolis.
Hinton and Smith both have verbally committed to Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas to play volleyball.
Smith, Rogers and Hinton play volleyball for coach Sandy Langford’s GRHS Lady Tigers during the school year, and have had amazing success in their UIL competition.
Langford’s Lady Tigers rolled to a 40-4 season record in 2016, reaching the Region I-4A final before being eliminated by eventual state champion Bushland.
Last season, the Lady Tigers achieved a No. 2 state ranking and posted the most victories and fewest losses in the school’s history in any sport, finishing with a 48-2 mark. They reached the Class 4A state tournament, falling in the semifinals in five sets to Argyle.
The head coach of the TAV team is Whitney Sample, who works for the Carrollton volleyball club.
Smith has been competing in off-season club volleyball for many years, with great success at the national level. This is her sixth consecutive year to be playing on a club team that has qualified for the USA Volleyball nationals.
In the 14-year-old division, Smith’s team won the Open Division. Her team in the 12-year-old division captured second place, and the following year she earned a national bronze medal for third place in the 13s. Her club team was fifth nationally two years ago, before last year’s Tejas 16.1 squad took third — both in the American Division.
“The thought of nationals is super important — just a big deal,” said Smith, a 5-11 outside hitter and defensive specialist. “We played in the Lone Star Tournament in Dallas to qualify. It’s so much fun playing with them.
“Club (volleyball) has done a lot for me over the years. My defense and my service receive passing needed a lot of help. It has gotten a lot better.”
Smith said she has received volleyball offers from some Division I schools, but wants to attend Division II Harding because of its church affiliation.
“I want to go to a Christian school,” Smith said, noting that she has not yet decided on a major although she has thought about the possibility of becoming a speech pathologist.
Hinton later decided on Harding as well, and Smith was pleased that it worked out that way.
“We were so sad that this is going to be our last year together,” Smith said of Hinton. “We’re really excited to go (to Harding) together.”
Hinton said, “Me and Logan are really close,” but added that she made her own college choice, separately from Smith.
“Harding came up a couple of months ago,” Hinton said. “I went and visited and I fell in love with the school and the volleyball program.”
This marks the third time Hinton, a middle blocker who stands 6 feet, 1/2 inch tall, has been on a national-qualifying club team, each time with Smith.
“It’s really exciting, knowing that your team was good enough to qualify,” said Hinton, who played her freshman year at Class 6A North Crowley High School before moving to Glen Rose.
Hinton, a member of the National Honor Society, had been enrolled in Fort Worth schools for seven years after her family moved to Texas from Utah. She has an older sister, Izzie, who plays volleyball at Utah State University. Izzie will be a junior there this fall.
“Utah is where all my family was from,” Hinton said.
Rogers, commenting on qualifying for nationals, said, “It was so awesome. We beat a super good team to get that national bid. It was a really good day for all of us. All of the teams we are playing now are super high level.”
To get to the club’s practice facility, they had to make the two-hour drive (depending on traffic) to Carrollton twice a week. Their practices and workout sessions expanded to three days a week after the end of the school year.
“It is demanding,” Hinton said. “It’s a long drive, but it’s worth it. I love my team. They’re all my best friends.”
Hinton said that the club experience has helped her to have a better overall understanding of the game.
“Club and high school is very different,” Hinton said. “In high school you’re working toward the playoffs. In club it’s all tournaments and the only thing you’re working for is nationals.”
Rogers, a 5-7 setter, played volleyball for Class 6A Coppell her freshman and sophomore years before moving to Glen Rose and joining the Lady Tigers. She was also on the GRHS golf team.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s the most fun I’ve ever had,” Rogers said of this year’s club team. “All of them are my best friends. You have to be super dedicated. It’s expensive, and it takes up a lot of time.”
Rogers said she plans to attend college, but doesn’t expect to play volleyball.
Hinton said that this year’s club team could have a chance to bring a national title — and three gold medals — back to Glen Rose.
“For me it’s a great experience, knowing that the things I’ve worked for can be a reality,” Hinton said.