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Southlake Style

Dragons' Hallgren to Play Beach Volleyball for USC

Jan 05, 2016 06:59AM ● By Kevin

Haley Hallgren. Photo courtesy of Fotosport.

Recently named the District 7-6A Most Valuable Player, Haley Hallgren has a lot to celebrate. The 6-foot-1, junior outside hitter announced her commitment to the University of Southern California in July. With all of her successes in indoor volleyball, the MaxPreps' 12th-ranked player in the nation made a surprising decision to play beach volleyball for the Pac-12 powerhouse.

"Haley Hallgren is that special player that does not come around often," said head coach Ryan Mitchell. "She balances the ability to be great on the court and on the sand, with her ability in the classroom, and her leadership qualities she displays in all areas of her life. Despite being one of the very best in her class, she is constantly looking for ways to improve her game."

With one high school season left to play, Hallgren looks to top a 2015 campaign that led her team to a 43-4 record and a quarterfinals loss to Boyd in the regional tournament. She played in 119 sets and posted team highs in kills (350), kills per set (2.9), and attack attempts (880).

"Haley is going to be very successful at USC for their beach program but Haley is going to do great in whatever arena of life she chooses because that is who Haley is," Mitchell continued. "She is a player that impacts all areas of the game with her dynamic offensive ability blended with her defensive skills and ball control. She has been a pleasure to coach the last couple of years and I am looking forward to her amazing senior year."

We caught up with Hallgren to chat about her decision to play for USC, her upcoming senior season, and much more.

Southlake Style: You've committed to play beach volleyball for USC after careful consideration of some other options. Tell us about your choice - why USC? Was it a tough decision to go against playing indoors?

Haley Hallgren: When I had narrowed it down I was deciding between USC and UCLA. It was a really hard decision for me because I loved both schools and the coaches at each, I had to visit them both around five times before I could decide.

I loved USC's campus and the amenities are amazing, but I really just liked the majors they had to offer better. Academically it was the best fit.

Deciding to quit indoor was an incredibly tough decision. I love the game and have been playing it for around half my life. I knew I wanted to pursue beach after college, so I decided it would be best to focus on beach and get as good as I can without the distractions of indoor. 

Your career has been quite interesting with some big-time accomplishments, including last year's second-place U17 world championship performance. Can you take us through your volleyball career - both indoors and out - such as: how you got started, when you realized you fell in love with the sport, when you realized you were good enough to play at the next level, and list out all of your accomplishments to date?

Hallgren: I got into volleyball in second grade because my mom played at Georgetown. In fifth grade my club coach had played on the AVP [Association of Volleyball Professionals] tour and introduced me to beach volleyball. I can't pinpoint a time I fell in love with the sport, but I do remember that my parents basically had to force me to start playing.

Here is a list of my accomplishments:


Carroll High School

  • Team MVP
  • MVP district 7-6A
  • TGCA All State team
  • TGCA All Star Team
  • Academic All District
  • Dallas Morning News All-Area Team Most Versatile Player
  • 2015 Pre-Season All-American Watch List
  • 2015-2016 All-Texas Team- Second Team
  • All Tournament Team – Allen Texas Open Tournament (2nd place)
  • Most Valuable Player – Plano Circle of Champions Tournament (1st place)
  • Player of the Week (week 4)
  • Player of the Week Honorable Mention (weeks 9 and 13)
  • American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Phenom

TAV 16 Black

  • Gold Medal, First Place 16 Open at USA Junior Nationals
  • Most Valuable Player -- All Tournament Team USA Junior Nationals (All-American)
  • Team Captain
  • 2015 Club Volleyball First Team All-American  - 16’s (one of two outside hitters) (Tawa’s Choices)
  • 2015 Club Volleyball Highest Honorable Mention All-American  - 16’s (Chris’s Choices)

USA and AAU Beach

  • A1 High Performance National Team U17
  • Gold Medalist, USA Beach High Performance Championships U17 (with Sammy Slater)
  • AAU Best of the Beach Champions U16 (with Joy Dennis)
  • Selected for High Performance A1 Holiday Camp U19


Carroll High School

  • Star-Telegram Volleyball Super Team First Team (Only six area players selected; only underclassman selected)
  • Most Valuable Player (Voted by team)
  • 1st Team All-District
  • Academic All District
  • 2014 Sophomore 79, Highest Honorable Mention
  • Dallas Morning News All-Area Team – Honorable Mention
  • Team Captain
  • All Tournament Team – Pearland Tournament (1st place)
  • All Tournament Team – Northwest Tournament (1st place)
  • Player of the Week Honorable Mention (weeks 3 and 6)
  • 2014 HS Awards– Outstanding Hitter – Special Recognition
  • 2014-2015 All –Texas Team -- Players to Watch
  • Bi-District and Area Champions; Regional Semi-Finalists

TAV 15 Black

  • Captain
  • All Tournament Team USA Junior Nationals (All-American)
  • Finished 6th Place at Nationals
  • Triple Crown Champions 16U

USA and AAU Beach

  • A1 High Performance National Team U17
  • Silver Medalist FIVB World Championships Beach Volleyball (with Joy Dennis) (two teams of two from USA selected to participate)
  • AAU Best of the Beach Champions U16 (with Joy Dennis)
  • Selected for High Performance A1 Holiday Camp U17 


Carroll High School

  • First Freshman on Carroll Varsity
  • Academic All District
  • Honorable Mention All District
  • Best Server (by team)
  • 2013 Frosh 59 Honorable Mention
  • Bi-District and Area Champions; Regional Semi-Finalists; Regional Finalists; State Semi-Finalists

TAV 14 Black

  • Captain
  • Placed 7th at Nationals
  • Won Two Qualifiers (NorthEast and Northern Lights) and placed third at Lonestar Qualifier

USA Beach

  • A1 High Performance National Team U15
  • Bronze Medalist, USA Beach High Performance Championships (with Pippa Monk)
  • Selected for High Performance A1 Holiday Camp U17
  • Pro-Am Champion 692 Beach 
SS: What would you say is your favorite memory in your playing career?

Hallgren: I think it would have to be the state semi-final game my freshman year. Even though we didn't win, the experience was amazing, and I couldn't have asked for better girls to have played with for my first high school season.

SS: How has Southlake and Carroll helped you get to where you are?

Hallgren: Carroll volleyball has helped me to improve the speed of my game especially freshman year, because the level was so much higher than I was used to. Also these past two years has definitely helped me to improve my leadership skills on and off the court. 

SS: Do you have plans on the educational side of things for college? (major, classes you'd like to take, etc.)

Hallgren: USC has a great program where you can almost create your own major by combining multiple together. I hope to take some sports management classes and a combination of business classes, as I hope to be a sports agent. 

SS: Talk about the current state of the Dragon girls volleyball team. This year's quarterfinal loss was tough, but the team overall did well. Can you speak about your thoughts on this year's results and your thoughts on next year's team?

Hallgren: Obviously, the playoff run we were hoping for was cut short. The hard thing about this was we had improved so much over the season and turned into a completely different team. The loss against Boyd, we looked like the team from the beginning of the year, and the loss is always worse when you know you didn't play your best.

Next year, I think we should have a good team. We have a lot of returning players and should have strong senior leadership. We are losing two key pin hitters, a starting middle, and our libero. All of these positions would usually be tough to fill except Coach Mitchell did an excellent job getting everyone playing time to help prepare us for next season. 

SS: What are some goals both on and off the court for you before you graduate high school?

Hallgren: Well, for beach, I am hoping to be able to travel with the national team this summer. For indoor, the rest of the seniors and I have one last chance to get that state ring. Off the court, I am hoping to make all-state for academics. 

SS: Do you play any other sports? Do you have any other hobbies you enjoy? Who is Haley Hallgren off the court?

Hallgren: While I no longer play any other sports, and my schedule doesn't have much free time, my friends and I recently started playing spikeball. We [also] spend the summers in California throwing the vortex on the beach.

SS: Is there anyone in particular throughout your life and/or playing career that you can say inspired/molded you and helped you become a better player and/or person?

Hallgren: I think that playing with Cat McCoy has really helped me to become the leader I am today. My freshman year, when I was put on the team, I didn't know anybody. I had missed all the summer workouts and camps because I was training in California, and she took me under her wing. Cat really helped to make me feel like I was part of the team. Thanks to the way she got me involved, I want to do the same for our underclassmen.