By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
Throw the records out of the nearest window in District 17-4A, as the volleyball season has turned toward the district slate.
Midlothian Heritage, a 2018 state semifinalist, traveled to neighboring Life Waxahachie to open their respective 17-4A seasons on Friday. And it was the Jaguars who came away with the three-set sweep of the host Lady Mustangs, 25-7, 25-16, 25-12.
Following the win, first-year Heritage head coach Erika Weber said she thought her team played “exceptionally well,” while senior middle blocker Hanna Larson described the win as “amazing.”
“We were able to run some of the plays that we have been working on,” Weber told KBEC Sports. “With the tough pre-district schedule that we had, we were able to see the success that, even with the losses that we’ve had, it is going to pay off.”
Larson, who finished second on the team with 11 kills, added that the Jaguars “have been really working on the family aspect of the game and I just feel like that all came together tonight. We really just all worked as one and we played together and it was just amazing.”
“[…] We need to improve on our plays and on what we want to run and how fast we get so that we can be able to just keep going and just kill everything,” Larson continued. “We need to be able to run fast plays.”
Kelsey Carpenter led Heritage with 15 kills on just 29 swings for a .379-hitting percentage. The Jaguars finished the match with a .260 clip at the net, receiving kills from Liz Haralson (4), Elizabeth Schmidt (3) and Hayden Brunson (1).
Carpenter also added a team-best four aces on a night when the Jaguars converted on 93.2 percent of their serves.
Cayla Williams led the team with six total blocks, while Carpenter posted four blocks, 11 assists and a team-high 10 digs to complete here triple-double.
Juliana Pologruto recorded 16 assists to lead the Jaguars in that department.
“We really played as a unit tonight,” Weber said. “I thought Hannah Larson had a lot of really good hits but, again, you can’t have that without a really good pass and assist. I am very proud of our girls being able to eliminate unforced errors and that is what keeps us in the position that we are in.”
The straight-set victory improved the Jaguars to 15-17-1 on the season. It also, and more importantly, gave Heritage the all-important first District 17-4A win.
The Mustangs, meanwhile, fell to 12-12 on the season and 0-1 in 17-4A.
“All week we have been working on competing,” first-year Life Waxahachie head volleyball coach Cameron Harson said. “Going into the first set, we got into a rut on serve receive and I called a timeout and once we got back out there we got back into our competitive mindset. That has been our main focus. Even though we didn’t come out with a win, when you compete, good things happen. I am proud of how we fought and how we didn’t give up.”
Hartson also pointed to a recent five-set win against Sunnyvale and a four-set loss against Godley as additional building blocks for the Lady Mustangs, noting that she hopes the girls continue to stack up the positives and improve each time onto the court.
“We need to learn to adjust, maybe a little sooner,” Hartson added. “Defensive wise, we have to have that defensive mentality and know that when we are up against big hitters that we cannot be scared and have to rise to the occasion. We have to be mentally tough in those pressure situations. That has been our main focus this year.”
Life Waxahachie will look to bounce back from the 17-4A opening loss with a 6:30 p.m Tuesday tilt at home against Ferris.
Heritage will host Alvarado at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Weber said the Mustangs need to keep the focus on their next opponent.
“Every practice, we are working for the next game and focusing on the right now,” the head coach said. “We are going to expect even more from every single team in our district and we are preparing ourselves to reach our potential and play the best volleyball that we can play.”
All photos by Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports
Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports contributed to this report.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith