MIDLOTHIAN — With each win that the Jaguar volleyball team picks up from here on out, a new school-record for wins-in-a-season is set. Though there was no epic second set with 70 points scored in the latest matchup between Midlothian Heritage and Stephenville, the tidy sweep of the Honeybees broke the school-record for the first time this season.
Heritage defeated Stephenville is straight sets (25-10, 25-17, 25-22) on Tuesday night in Midlothian. The Jaguars entered the contest as the second-ranked team in the Texas Girls Coaches Association 4A state poll.
The win improved the Jaguars to 25-2 overall and 6-1 in District 8-4A, breaking the previous school record win-total set last year (24-12).
“By this point in the season you hope you are doing things better than you were in the preseason or even in the first half of district,” said Heritage head volleyball coach Timmi Blackshear. “In thinking about it or looking at the film, I am able to see those little moments that maybe some other people might not see like with those things we have talked about probably 500 times at this point or have worked on every day at practice and I am seeing them some of those. I definitely do see that we are on the right track.”
After winning the first two sets 25-10, 25-17, Heritage found itself trailing Stephenville midway through the third set. Katie Greer then fired home one of her three kills from the middle to put the Jaguars back on top, 16-15.
A few serves later Hannah Larson recorded a kill from the left side and block in the middle on back-to-back points to force a Stephenville timeout with Heritage leading 23-17. Larson finished the match with five kills and two blocks.
The Honeybees rallied out of the timeout, though, rattling off four-straight points after a Jayci Morton block to pull within two, 23-21.
Valdez then sent a kill to the hardwood out of a Heritage timeout to push the Jaguars to match point. Two serves later, Larson tucked the winning point inside the back line for the 25-22 set-three win.
In Tuesday’s victory, 23 assists by Tori Needles and 20 more from Rachel Richie resulted to 13 Kelsey Carpenter kills, 11 from Julia Valdez and seven for Karena Tipton. Valdez also added 12 digs and three aces, while Katie Chambers led the Jaguars with 18 digs.
Blackshear admitted the Jaguars played much better Tuesday than in the four-set loss to TGCA 4A No. 1 Glen Rose on Friday.
“I do wish that, at this point, pretty soon we would see some more consistent play through all of our sets. We are not looking too far ahead but at the same time our goal is to be ready for the playoffs, and that is going to take a whole lot more consistency and focus than we have been playing with,” Blackshear explained.
The first-year Heritage head coach, who is nearing a personal career high for wins in a season (26), said she knows her team has all of the talent and chemistry it needs to succeed in the postseason. However, she thinks the tipping point between a playoff team and state championship contender is going to be in the Jaguars’ attention to detail.
“That lapse of focus that makes you think, well, ‘that touch was good enough’ or ‘that block was good enough’ or ‘that dig was good enough,’ then that is when you start getting into trouble. In playoffs, that won’t be good enough,” she said. “That standard is going to be raised, so I think it is important that we focus on every single detail and every single opportunity.”
With five district games to play, Heritage needs just one more win to clinch one of the four district playoff spots. The Jaguars can still win the district championship, or at least a share of the crown, by winning each of their next five 8-4A matches — which concludes with a home contest against (37-1, 6-0) Glen Rose, who fell on Tuesday for the first time this season. Callisburg defeated the Lady Tigers in a non-district match, 25-18, 24-26, 19-25, 18-25.
Heritage returns to the court Friday, Oct. 6 on the road against Venus. The first serve is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.