Blount Press Row


Mustangs claim dynasty-clinching 3-peat

The Heritage Middle Mustangs claimed their third consecutive Blount County championship and fifth in the last nine years Friday night. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

When next the conversation turns to Blount County sports dynasties, don’t forget the Mustangs.

Host and fourth-seed Union Grove put up a mighty good fight, but top-seed Heritage simply would not fold in the championship match of the Blount County Middle School Volleyball Tournament on Friday.

Tourney MVP Eden Davis sets the offense in motion as Haley Harnichar (23), Kendell Correll (5) and Jordan Geary ready to pounce.

With tournament most valuable player Eden Davis setting the pace, the Mustangs turned back the Wildcats, 25-23, 24-26, 15-9, Heritage claiming a dynasty-clinching third consecutive championship and the school’s fifth in less than a decade.

Titles in 2009, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018 come with four runner-up finishes during the burst. The run includes the famed “Untouchables” of 2014, who finished a perfect 23-0 en route to the championship.

“It’s coach (Jason) Jacklet and (assistant coach) Mrs. (Sharee) Green,” Davis said.

Jacklet, in his 15th season, brought a powerful club to Union Grove. Middle blocker and all-tournament selection Haley Harnichar was pretty much a block machine at the netting. She can get up and strike it pretty good, too.

All-Tournament selections Kylee Thomas and Jordan Geary were clutch on all the big points.

Davis, a softball and basketball standout at the school in her first year of volleyball, pushed Heritage over the top.

“She’s just an athlete,” Jacklet said. “She doesn’t want to lose.”

All that withstanding, Jacklet admitted to being nervous prior to the championship match.

“I’m always nervous,” he said.

He had good reason Friday: Union Grove.

The program almost folded five years ago for want of a coach. Kelly Plemons not only volunteered to take over, along with assistant coach Veronica Caldwell she transformed the Wildcats into a scrappy, tough bunch. After Union Grove edged Carpenters in a close elimination match prior to the title tilt, Jacklet said he knew the Wildcats would come to play.

Harnichar touches a block back the other way.

“I knew they’d be riding an emotional high after the Carpenters win,” he said. “They’re a well-coached team and they’ve played well all year.”

“They (the Wildcats) were hungry,” Plemons said. “They wanted it and they fought to the very end. I’m very proud of them for coming back and fighting as hard as they could.”

With all-tournament selections Maddie and Kaley Turner leading the charge, Union Grove ran Heritage close in the opening set before extracting a two-point win in Set 2.

“Coach Plemons has been telling us all week we’re as good as anybody here,” Maddie Turner said, “and I think we proved it tonight.”

Pressed, Heritage found its mettle in a player who said she took up volleyball because “everybody said it’s fun.”

“We told (the team), ‘It’s OK; just shake it off,'” Davis said.

“I told them to make sure we pass it and make sure we communicate,” Jacklet said. “When we pass and get good sets, we can hit the ball.”

The clinching third set turned on a couple of big points from the MVP.

Kaley Turner opened a two-point lead for the Wildcats on a put-away at 8-6. After Heritage’s strong net game halved the deficit, Davis punched through for the equalizer and the lead. Now up 9-8, the Mustangs sprinted for the finish. At 13-9, Kendell Correll closed it out from the service line to spark the celebration.

Heritage Middle Lady Mustangs
2018 Blount County Champions
The Three-Peat

Eden Davis, Anna Waters, Chole Enfinger, Kylee Thomas, Haley Harnichar, Jordan Geary, Emily Cable, Julia Witt, Carley Pickens, Emma Tallent, Kendall Correll, Kinsi Carnes, Sydney Long, Bailey Snow, Emma Ray, Emily Kessler.

Head coach: Jason Jacklet
Assistant coach: Sharee Green

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *