By Becky Kimbrell-Norris
RALEIGH — In just the fourth year of the program’s history, the Heritage High School volleyball team has enjoyed a breakthrough in 2013.
They had their best season ever but it came to an end during the first round of the Cap 8 Conference tournament October 10, losing to Millbrook in four sets.
After Heritage defeated the Wildcats in the first frame 26-24, they struggled their way through the next three, battling erratic serve receive. The Wildcats steadily pulled away to claim 25-17, 25-16 and 25-14 victories.
“Our serve receive got away from us a bit in the second and third sets,” said Heritage coach Branden Green. “When we serve receive effectively, we played well all year and when we struggled, it was normally serve receive that was the issue.”
Heritage’s season came to a close with a final record of 10-14 overall and 4-10 in the league.
That’s a big improvement after winning just three matches in 2012 after starting the program with two winless seasons.
This season Heritage defeated in-town rival Wake Forest twice and also recorded wins against Sanderson and Leesville Road.
“I thought we had a good year,” Green said. “It’s tough to learn what it takes and how to win.”
“We lost a lot of close sets and hopefully by next year we can figure out how to win those,” Green went on to say. “We were really competitive and played hard all year and I am very pleased with where we are moving forward.”
The Huskies came out fighting for every point in the opening set against Millbrook, which finished the regular season 16-7 and third in the league standings at 10-4.
Heritage had just played the Wildcats two days earlier in their last regular season match and lost by the same score 1-3.
“We had the same game plan each time we played them.” Green said. “We just didn’t execute it very well in several sets and the ones we did the sets were close.”
“Every team in the Cap 8 is tough,” Green added. “We were just worried about playing our game and playing the best we could.”
Outside hitters junior Tori Holmberg and Hannah Midles, a sophomore, led the Huskies in attacking the ball with 11 and 14 kills, respectively.
The first set featured seven ties and four lead changes and Millbrook tied the game at 24-24. Following a Husky timeout Heritage did not waste any time scoring the last two winning points.
With their backs up against the wall, Millbrook trailing 0-1, began to play much better in game two and took the lead for good at 9-8. Along the way, the Wildcats went on scoring sprees to tie the series at 1-1.
Unfortunately for Heritage, Millbrook outscored them 7-0 in the third set and 8-0 in the fourth one thus eliminating the Huskies from further play in the tournament.
“Millbrook made some really good plays and we didn’t answer,” Green said.
Junior Sydney Hinds hit the floor to record 34 digs and setter Ellie Lupton, a sophomore was effective in getting the ball to her hitters with 36 assists.
The good news for Heritage is that they lose just one player to graduation so they will have a strong nucleus coming back.
Their 2014 roster will include seven seniors and will be their most experienced team to date so the Huskies will have a lot to look forward to next fall.
“It’s always good to be having the core of your team coming back but we need to improve and get better for doing what they need to do to be better next year,” Green said.
“Then we should have a great season next year,” Green added.