Her­itage van­quishes Lady Dragons in first round

Walker County Messenger - - Sports - By Scott Herpst

If this past Thurs­day was the fi­nal home volleyball match of the sea­son for the Her­itage Lady Gen­er­als, they made sure it was a mem­o­rable one.

Her­itage, un­ranked, but the No. 2 seed from Re­gion 6, played in­spired ball on both the of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive end and ad­vanced to the Round of 16 in Class AAAA with a 25-21, 25-20, 2025, 25-17 vic­tory over a Jef­fer­son squad that came in ranked No. 10 by Score At­lanta.

With the vic­tory, the Lady Gen­er­als will head to Cartersville on Tues­day to take on the Lady Canes, the Re­gion 5 cham­pi­ons with the win­ner ad­vanc­ing to the Elite Eight.

“Two years ago, we made it to the Elite Eight, but we fell a lit­tle short in the first round last year,” Her­itage head coach Kari Cooper said. “So the goal is to get back (to the Elite Eight). We were re­ally fo­cused on get­ting back and mak­ing it past the first round this year.”

Her­itage (30-13) showed its depth against the Lady Dragons, ro­tat­ing its reg­u­lar start­ing six and sev­eral re­serves through­out the lineup to main­tain fresh legs in the best-of-five match.

“All sea­son long, we’ve been kind of work­ing with our lineup,” Cooper ex­plained. “I think we fi­nally got some­thing that works. We have a lot of play­ers that con­trib­ute. Plus, we’ve also pulled up some JV play­ers and that’s re­ally helped.”

The open­ing set was a tight one be­fore the Lady Gen­er­als went on a 6-1 run to grab a 19-13 ad­van­tage. Com­ing out of a time­out, Jef­fer­son reeled off four straight points - two com­ing on Her­itage er­rors - and they would even­tu­ally tie things up at 20 apiece.

But the Lady Dragons wouldn’t be able to take the lead. Kali Brown came through with a clutch kill and a Jef­fer­son hit­ting er­ror gave Her­itage an­other point. Her­itage would push it to set point af­ter win­ning a long rally and an­other hit­ting er­ror gave the Navy-and-Red the win.

In the se­cond set, Her­itage pulled ahead 13-8 on a block by Morgan Trotter and ex­tended their ad­van­tage to 18-12. But Jef­fer­son would score eight of the next 11 points to chop Her­itage’s lead down to 21-20.

How­ever, a kill by Ari­ana Camp and a block by Ma­cie Stephens would give Her­itage set point and the Lady Dragons couldn’t han­dle a serve by An­nie Brit­ton as the Lady Gen­er­als took a 2-0 lead in the match, spurred on by the Her­itage soft­ball team, who led the cheers from the stands.

But Jef­fer­son wasn’t ready to wave the white flag just yet. They opened up a 14-10 lead just past the mid­way point of the third set and ex­tended it to 21-13. Her­itage would rally and chopped the gap all the way down to 23-20, but the Lady Dragons would get the fi­nal two points to send the match to a fourth set.

The fourth set, how­ever, would see Her­itage take con­trol and keep it. An­other ace by Brit­ton and a kill by Stephens pushed the lead to 22-17 and an ace by Har­ris put Her­itage two points from ab­so­lute vic­tory. Com­ing out of a time­out, Brown stuffed a Jef­fer­son kill to bring it to match point be­fore a fi­nal ace by Har­ris closed it out.

“We prac­ticed the last cou­ple of days on things that we ex­pected to hap­pen in this match,” Cooper ex­plained. “We knew how to make the ad­just­ments and the girls knew what to do.”

Har­ris picked up 11 kills, eight digs and three aces on the evening, while Brown had seven kills, 18 digs and two aces. Camp col­lected nine kills to go with three blocks and Ash­ley Clin­ton recorded 31 as­sists to go with three aces and four blocks. Stephens had six kills and three blocks, while Brit­ton served up four aces.

Cooper added that she was thank­ful to get a good test so early in the post-sea­son.

“We want to be tested,” she added. “We’ve had more losses on the sea­son this year, but that’s be­cause I’ve in­ten­tion­ally tried to test our team. Play­ing these tougher teams helps us know ex­actly what we need to work on to get bet­ter.”

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