MIDLOTHIAN — Less than 48 hours after winning the Duncanville Tournament of Champions and gathering a litany of awards, the Jaguars found themselves scaling towards the top of the Lone Star State volleyball mountain.
The Texas Girls Coaches Association named Midlothian Heritage High School as its new Class 4A No. 3 Monday as part of a ranking shake up in its top 10.
New Head Coach Timmi Blackshear and the Jaguars fell outside of the TGCA preseason top ten and behind Bushland, Argyle, Liberty Hill, Glen Rose, Monahans, Geronimo Navarro, Huffman Hargrave, Carthage, Lavernia and Paris North Lamar High Schools. Their teams ranked 1-10, respectively.
Bushland (No. 1), Glen Rose (No. 2) either remained perched atop the mountain or made a small step towards the peak. Argyle (No. 7), Liberty Hill (No. 8), Geronimo Navarro (No. 9) and Huffman Hargrave (No. 10) tumbled down the rankings.
The Monahans fell out completely.
The TGCA minted Lavernia, a former possessor of the ninth position, as its new No. 4 and schools like Midlothian Heritage (No. 3) Brownfield (No. 5) and Needleville (No. 6) inserted themselves into the conversation after recent tournament performances.
The Jaguars beat Blackshear's former team Cleburne and North Mesquite and nearly knocked off UIL 5A The Colony after a 2-1 finish in the 18-team Duncanville Tournament of Champions — known in some circles as 'Volleywars' — on Friday.
They were also swept 3-0 by Frisco's Justin Wakeland High School during pool play.
Twenty-four hours later they had carved through District 13-5A Frisco 23-25, 25-16 and 25-21 and swept Wakeland — the second time they'd faced the school in the tournament — 25-20 and 25-18 as the No. 7 seed en route to a Gold Bracket Championship.
Wakeland's Lady Wolverines went 36-1 overall and 13-1 in district play last season and eliminated powerhouse Waxahachie from the UIL regional semifinals in 2015 and 2016. They were also state-ranked at No. 7 by the TGCA before the loss.
Midlothian Heritage also saw senior Julia Valdez earn MVP honors, senior Tori Needles claim setter of the tournament and sophomore Hanna Larson named Blocker of the Tournament.
The Jaguars are in their third year of varsity play and made the playoffs the two previous years, earning a bi-district round berth against Springtown High School in 2015 and another against Kennedale in 2016.
Marcus S. Marion is the sports editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light and Midlothian Mirror. He can be reached by phone at (469) 517-1456 or across social media platforms @MarcusSMarion.