Blount Press Row

The Untouchables

Heritage Middle volleyball caps undefeated season with county championship

_MG_8241Heritage Middle eighth-grader Layla Grant connects at the net as Maryville Junior High’s Sydney Crook and Allison Early put up the block at the Blount County Middle School Volleyball Tournament on Thursday. Lady Mustang and tournament most valuable player Macey Burns (7) is at right. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

By Stefan Cooper
Editor
Blount Press Row

Her daddy calls her “the Boom!”

Heritage's Cassidy Williams makes the pass.

Cassidy Williams makes the pass.

After watching Cassidy Williams serve – in the clutch — we’d feel pretty good about “Rocket,” too.

The Heritage Middle eighth-grader gave the Lady Mustangs some much-needed breathing room with back-to-back aces to clinch a close opening game.

Maryville Junior High didn’t go away and made top-seed Heritage really fight for it yet again in Game 2, but there would be no denying the Lady Mustangs in the championship match of the Blount County Middle School Volleyball Tournament on Thursday night at Alcoa High School.

Tournament most valuable player Macey Burns and all-tournament selection Layla Grant powered Heritage home from there, and the Lady Mustangs took their rivals in straight sets, 25-21, 25-22, to become the first team in school history to finish the season undefeated, an untouchable 23-0.

“They really hung tough,” Lady Mustangs coach Jason Jacklet said. “They fought hard, right to the last. Both teams had girls that really stepped up. (The Lady Mustangs) really picked it up down the stretch and played as a team.”

The No. 3-seed Lady Rebels, fighting their way out of the loser’s bracket with three wins on Thursday, looked a charmed team for much of the night, their run to the championship match including an upset of No. 2-seed Alcoa Middle.

“They were going on pure adrenaline,” Maryville coach Kristi Dunkel said. “I’m very proud of our girls. I think they peaked at the right time and they left it all on the court.”

Pushing Heritage to big deficits in both games, including an 18-12 Lady Rebel advantage in Game 2, Maryville finally found a rhythm it’d been looking for all season, all-tournament selection Sydney Crook said.

“Our attitude was, ‘Work together and play as a team,’” she said. “They (the Lady Mustangs) are tough competition, but we went out there and played our hearts out.”

Tournament most valuable player Macey Burns sets the ball for Chailey Shofner and Grant.

Tournament most valuable player Macey Burns sets the ball for Chailey Shofner and Grant.

Burns erased a four-point Maryville lead early in Game 1, the Heritage eighth-grader running off four straight at the service line. The Lady Mustangs led, 19-16, by the time she was done and never again trailed. The all-tournament selection Williams iced Game 1 soon after.

“I was pretty nervous,” Williams said, “but I just put it to the back of my mind and concentrated. I just tried to get it in and get us some points.”

Gracie Bowers was responsible for a great many Heritage points, the Lady Mustang eighth-grader setting the tempo with a team-best nine kills, adding a 10th point on a block.

Grant and Williams finished with six kills each. In the night’s most telling statistic, Williams and Burns both accounted for 10 aces.

Arguably the pivotal moment of the match came with Maryville holding a 22-17 lead in Game 2, at which point Jacklet asked for time.

“He didn’t let us get down,” Grant said.

“We’re so close, we’re a family more than a team,” Burns said.

The Blount County Middle School Volleyball Tournament All-Tournament Team, from left, Taylor Prats, Union Grove; Allie Brown, Alcoa; Sydney Crook, Maryville; Brook Parker, Maryville; Layla Grant, Heritage; Cassidy Williams, Heritage; Macey Burns, Heritage, tournament most valuable player.

The Blount County Middle School Volleyball Tournament All-Tournament Team, from left, Taylor Prats, Union Grove; Allie Brown, Alcoa; Sydney Crook, Maryville; Brook Parker, Maryville; Layla Grant, Heritage; Cassidy Williams, Heritage; Macey Burns, Heritage, tournament most valuable player.

Grant distinguished herself on several occasions with the Lady Rebels threatening to break it open.

“She’s 110 percent,” Jacklet said. “She just goes.”

With Heritage holding match point at 24-22, the Lady Mustang shot maker delivered a blistering smash down the line to close it out.

“We’re a great team,” she said, “and, when it counted, we played as a team.”

The 2014 Heritage Middle Lady Mustangs
Macey Burns, Gracie Bowers, Madison Wilson, Cassidy Williams, Layla Grant, Emma Jones, Breanna Russell, Chailey Shofner, Logan Catarino, Courtney Deck, Abigail Mann, Clare Nash, Jorrie Russell, Briana Shoemaker, Sable Sandoval, Gabby Grant, Emily McGuire, Emma Whitehead, Kelsey Woods.

Coaches — Jason Jacklet, Sharee Green
Student coaches — Savannah Bradburn, Katie Cowden
Manager — Emily Murr

 

 

 

One Comment

  1. Jason Jacklet

    April 25, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Thank to Stefan and Jolanda for giving of their time to come out and cover the Middle School Volleyball Tournament. It means a lot to these girls to get a little press coverage and acknowledgment for their hard work and effort.

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