MIDLOTHIAN — Two matches into the District 8-4A schedule have brought little sweat to the brows of the Midlothian Heritage Jaguar volleyball team.
Heritage entered district play riding a six-game winning streak and with a No. 3 ranking in the Texas Girls Coaches Association 4A poll. First-year Heritage head volleyball coach Timmi Blackshear and her Jaguars have now run the winning streak to eight games with straight-set sweeps of Godley (25-12, 25-6, 25-17) and Venus (25-6, 25-12, 25-13).
After cruising in set one during the district opener at home last Friday, Sept. 8, a tandem block by Karena Tipton and Grayce Davis followed by a cross-court kill from Davis set the tone early in set two, putting Heritage ahead of Godley 15-5. A few serves later it was a Kelsey Carpenter kill down the left side followed by a Godley hitting error that put the Jaguars up 20-5.
Katie Greer soon followed with one of her game-high nine kills on the evening to put the Jaguars at set point, and Tipton soon followed with one of her six kills in the 25-6 set-two win.
The third set began the same way as the second ended — with a Tipton kill from the middle.
Heritage then reeled off seven more points for an early 8-0 lead before a hitting error put Godley on the board. The Jaguars had just nine hitting errors on the night.
Tipton sent home an ace a couple of serves later to put the Jaguars up 10 points, 13-3, and well on their way to an easy 25-17 third-set win.
In addition to Greer and Tipton, Kelsey Carpenter finished the night with eight kills, while Julia Valdez added seven and Hanna Larson six. Valdez led the Jaguars with 14 digs. Tipton added a team-high five blocks to her stat line. Tori Needles led all setters with 28 assists.
Though (20-3, 2-0) Heritage has not dropped a set, let alone a match, since a five-set win over Argyle on Aug. 26, Blackshear said her team is focused on staying focused as the volleyball schedule flips to its second season.
“Staying focused is definitely something that we have had plenty of conversations about. Going into district knowing that, yes, we want to be extremely successful in district and that the expectation is to be competing for a district title but at the same that is not the standard at which we are measuring this season’s success,” explained Blackshear on the home court after Friday’s win. “Our hopes are to go much, much further. We know that standard has to be extremely high in order to achieve that.
After playing 21 matches over 28 days during the tournament season, Heritage will now play just nine more matches before the regular season concludes Oct. 24 at home against No. 1 (32-0, 2-0) Glen Rose. In order to keep her girls performing at a high level, Blackshear said she one of her biggest jobs as a coach is to recognize what makes her team tick and remain focused.
“One of the biggest parts of my job as a coach is one, keeping them invested day in and day out, then and finding out what I can do to motivate them each and every day to come into the gym with a purpose to get better. We have had a lot of conversations about that, too. We try to create a practice that is very game-like and at game speed,” she said. “As a coach, knowing my team and knowing what they need physically or mentally at any given time is key. This part of the season, we are not going (practicing) two or two-and-a-half hours like we were.
“Everything is with a purpose but winning definitely helps. “
Heritage returns to action Friday, Sept. 15 at home against (13-14) Argyle in a non-district match. The Jaguars return to District 8-4A play next Tuesday, Sept. 19 on the road against (12-14-1, 1-0) Stephenville.