‘Lady Mustangs, you know!’
- Updated: May 6, 2016
Heritage Middle volleyball becomes school’s third county champion
Head coach Jason Jacklet leads the celebration as the Lady Mustangs cut loose in the post-match huddle. Photos by Cindy Nowlin
By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row
Here’s a stat for you.
Grayson Fleming, Nikki Morgan, Lexi Patty and Harley Romines didn’t record a service error for the tournament.
Not the championship matchup with top-seed Maryville. The whole thing.
A steady hand at the service line had a lot to do with it as Heritage Middle turned back Maryville Junior High, 25-19, 25-17, in the championship match of the Blount County Middle School Volleyball Tournament on Tuesday at Union Grove.
With the title, volleyball (22-3) joins softball and baseball to become Heritage Middle’s third county champion this school year.
“They just fought hard,” Lady Mustangs coach Jason Jacklet said. “We’ve had 14 girls injured or miss games, and they’ve just continued to fight and work together.”
The finale was the third meeting of night for the tournament’s top two seeds, the Lady Mustangs prevailing, 25-20, 25-21, in what proved an all-important winner’s bracket final.
The host and sixth-seeded Lady Wildcats pushed the Lady Rebels the three full sets in the loser’s bracket final. The scare had the Lady Rebels plenty motivated for the rematch with Heritage, all-tournament selections Evan Harper at the middle blocker and Miranda Wyatt outside hitter coming up with big shot after big shot as Maryville beat back elimination, 25-20, 22-25, 15-8.
“We just tried to think about how hard we’d fought to get here,” Harper said.
“You have to keep your head in the game,” Wyatt said. “You have to stay focused.”
In the Heritage huddle between games, Jacklet said he told the Lady Mustangs to put the loss behind them as quickly as possible.
“I told them, ‘Calm down,’” he said. “‘We made some mistakes. If we take care of that, we’ll be OK.’”
That did the trick, all-tournament selection Emma Whitehead said.
“We said, ‘It’s a clean slate,’” she said. “‘Whatever they’ve done doesn’t matter. We can still play hard and everyone just has to try your best.’”
In the tie-breaker that followed, tournament most valuable player Kelsey Woods led Heritage home.
With the score at 16-14 Heritage in the night’s final set, the Lady Mustangs surged, opening a 20-14 advantage before a Maryville timeout. Hitting efficiency opened the gap to eight when play resumed.
“I’m very proud of the girls,” Maryville coach Kristi Dunkel said. “They fought hard. I think we just ran out of gas.”
Whitehead had 23 kills out of a possible 55 chances for the tournament, Woods 18 service aces and 45 assists. Kaitlyn Wilkerson, nine aces, Raven Majors, six, Gabby Grant six, two blocks, eight kills, Katlin Burger, eight kills in 35 attacks, were indicative of a Heritage team with a lot to draw on as the night waned. Laurel Snow and Joslyn Barton stood out keeping the ball in play on the back line.
“We’ve had several players step up,” Jacklet said.
2016 Blount County Volleyball Champions
Emily Cable, Laurel Campbell, Chloe Enfinger, Karley Lasorsa, Trinity Anderson, Joslyn Barton, Katlin Burger, Love Edwards, Grayson Fleming, Alexis Patty, Harley Romines, Larel Snow, Kaitlyn Wilkerson, Vallie Comstock, Julie Gibson, Gabby Grant, Raven Majors, Nikki Morgan, Emma Whitehead, Kelsey Woods.
Head coach: Jason Jacklet
Assistant coaches: Savannah Bradburn, Madison Wilkerson, Sharee Green
Manager: Janice Summey