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by Becky Kimbrell-Norris
WAKE FOREST—It’s not so much how you start a match, but how you finish.
The Heritage High School volleyball team proved as much on September 5 when they won their second Cap 8 Conference match in the program’s three-year history. The Huskies defeated visiting Sanderson 3-2 and improved its overall record to 6-5 and 1-3 in the league.
“This was a total team effort,” said Heritage coach Branden Green. “Everyone played well and we were able to get over the hump and get our second conference win.”
The Huskies defeated Wake Forest in a home match last season.
Against Sanderson, Heritage lost the first set 19-25, won the second 25-10, and lost the third one, 21-25 before winning the fourth and fifth sets, 25-18 and 15-10.
“I feel like we have improved so much,” said sophomore outside hitter Midles, who led the Huskies in attacks with 43.
“We played with a lot of energy and it feels great to win a conference game,”Midles added.
Getting behind and having to fight back and be competitive is something the Huskies have not been able to do. “We pulled it out tonight and beat a good team with good players,” Green said.
“Sanderson has beaten some good teams,” Green added. “And with this win, we now know we can fight and be competitive.”
The match was a contrast in defensive styles with Sanderson relying on the block but Heritage countered with a strong back line, recording 112 digs.
The Huskies also set two school records when junior Sydney Hinds accounted for 32 digs and setter Ellie Lupton, a sophomore, dished out 44 assists.
Middle hitter Lauryn Brown and Tori Holmberg, an outside hitter, knocked down 12 and 11 kills, respectively.
In a back and forth type of match, it should have come as no surprise that the decisive fifth set came down to a series of runs.
Heritage got off to a quick 12-5 start, but the Spartans answered with a 5-0 spurt of their own to pull within 12-10.
But the Huskies stayed in front after a kill by Holmberg and service points from junior Holly Kennedy.
“It’s all about buying into your role,” Green said. “Holly is our ace server and she stepped up and served well.”
Kennedy went to the service line in the fourth set and scored six straight points to build a 17-11 lead, that the Huskies never relinquished.
“It’s really exciting to get our second conference win,” Kennedy said,” and I was just happy to play and be a part of it.”
Sanderson scored the first eight points in game one and Heritage rallied back to pull to within 14-13. The Spartans then reeled off six consecutive points and opened up a lead and eventually the victory.
Game two was tight in the beginning with three lead changes before the Huskies outscored Sanderson 8-0 to take a 10-3 lead after a kill by Brown.
Heritage continued to open up leads before winning the game by 15 points.
“We played really well this set,” Green said. “We were able to dictate the game whereas Sanderson dictated the first game.”
“Offensively, we did a lot of finishing,” Green added. “We bounced back and gave it our best shot.”
In set three, the score was much closer with five ties and four lead changes.
The score was also deadlocked five times in the fourth set before the Huskies took the lead for good on the service points from Kennedy.
Brown scored the final three points for Heritage in that set.
Green credited his team for stepping up as a whole and believes this win will boost their confidence.
“We hope to build on this win,” he said. “We’ve grown as a team and before we would have given up and put our heads down.”
Heritage will host cross-town rival Wake Forest tonight (Thursday) at 5:30 pm.