by Becky Kimbrell-Norris
WAKE FOREST — Heritage High’s volleyball team won four games at their annual Husky Invitational Volleyball tournament held this past weekend. That’s more games won in the program’s combined three-year history.
The biggest question Heritage coach Branden Green had prior to the tournament was how his team would fare against some of the state’s top competition.
To answer that question, the Huskies made it to the third place match but ended up taking fourth after losing to last year’s 4A state championship runner-ups, Leesville-Road.
“I think we did a lot of good things this weekend,” Green said. “We found some things we need to work on, but overall I think the girls got to see that we are growing as a program.”
Eight teams competed in the two-day tournament, which was won by Middle Creek with Person Senior earning second place. Finishing behind Leesville Road and Heritage was Triton, West Forsyth, Jordan and New Bern.
“I thought the tournament was the most competitive it has been in the four years we have hosted it,” Green said. “I want it to be competitive and challenging for our girls because I think that is when players grow and learn the most.”
“Playing competitive teams puts you in situations you hope your team can call on later in the year and say, ‘we’ve been in this before and we know we can get through it,’” Green added.
Heritage opened the tournament against Jordan, winning both sets 25-21 and 25-20.
Junior Tori Holmberg, an outside hitter, led the Huskies with nine kills, while Sydney Hinds, a junior and sophomore outside hitter Hannah Midles had 12 and 11 digs, respectively.
“Sydney has always been a solid player for us and she works very hard to keep getting better,” Green said. “She is someone we need to count on and will continue to count on.”
“Hannah had a great club season and summer,” Green added. “She has really grown as a hitter, but most impressively as a defender.
Both Hinds and Midles were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Ellie Lupton, a sophomore, led Heritage with 22 assists against Jordan.
Later in the evening, the Huskies squared off against Triton. Heritage took both sets by scores of 26-24 and 25-17.
Hinds was top in digs with 25.
Heritage and New Bern battled it out in a close first set before the Huskies prevailed with a 25-23 win. In the second set, Heritage was a 25-17 winner.
After losing a first set 22-25 to West Forsyth, the Huskies stormed back and came out with two back to back set wins at 25-18 and 15-12.
Holmberg and Midles had nine kills each and Lupton was the assist leader with 29.
The loss to Person was a tough one because Green said his team had the potential to beat them.
“I thought we had a chance to win,” he said. “Person has a great setter and outside hitter, but we just didn’t execute very well and made too many unforced errors to win.”
Heritage lost to Person 25-20 and 25-16.
With the loss, the Huskies were pitted against Leesville Road for third place and lost all three sets 17-25, 23-25 and 13-25.
Green said the four wins are a great start to the season, but there is still room for improvement.
“Just like every other year, we are trying to get better every day and continue to grow as a program,” he said. “The girls have really bought into that and have worked very hard to get to where we are.”
“We have more year-round players and that always helps,” he added.
“We beat four quality teams but we need to continue to grow and get better,” he said.