Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
WAKE FOREST — Heritage posted their second 3-0 victory in a row after they beat NAC 6 conference rival Wake Forest on the road Thursday Sept. 19.
All three games were decided by five points or less. The close sets were a result of back-and-forth scoring with no particular team holding a commanding lead. In the end, Heritage scored just enough points to squeak by their rivals on each set.
Heritage’s first 3-0 win of the season came two days earlier against Rolesville at home. Head coach Jessica Furlough said the players are motivated to sweeping their opponents this season.
“Last year, we played a lot of matches where it went five sets and we played with our backs against the wall,” Furlough said. “This year, the girls are tired of taking it past three sets. The girls have buckled down to get the win in three sets. Wake Forest is always a huge game for us. That uplifts our spirits a bit.”
In the first set, Wake Forest took an 11-6 lead. Heritage fought back and took the advantage at 14-13. The Cougars regained the lead at 15-14 and then held it for awhile until the Huskies took it back at 20-19. Heritage ended the game with a spike from Sapphire Wells to give them the 25-20 win.
In the second set, neither team could take control of the match. Finally, Wake Forest went ahead 9-6. Heritage didn’t take the lead until they were up 15-14. From that point on, the Huskies held on all the way to the 25-20 victory.
In the third and final set, Heritage closed things out with a comfortable lead for the majority of the game. The Huskies jumped ahead 7-1 at the start and then extended their advantage to 17-5. However, Wake Forest clawed and scratched their way back and made it a tight contest. Finally, Heritage finished the match with a win after the Cougars committed a hitting error into the net and the Huskies won 25-22.
“The girls came out with a lot of energy tonight,” Furlough said. “The girls did a great job fighting back when they were down a few points. There’s a lot of talking on the court and a lot of motivation.”
As for Wake Forest, they came close each game, but to no avail. Head coach Crystal Barnes said the players are still getting used to their new roles on the squad due to injuries and new players coming up from junior varisty. The multiple changes have caused inconsistent play for the Cougars.
“For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been making adjustments and bringing people up from junior varsity,” Barnes said. “We’re moving a lot of people around. I think the girls needed more time with that. Hopefully, everything will be back to normal next week.”
The conference loss was Barnes’ first loss to a conference opponent since Oct. 18, 2016. As the head coach for Franklinton High School, Barnes guided the Red Rams to back-to-back undefeated conference championships. Then she continued that streak with Wake Forest’s 3-1 win over Wakefield Sept. 17.
“We’re getting a lot of compliments from the parents of the players,” Barnes said. “They’re talking about how much they love watching the girls play and having fun. I see progress in our team through that.”
With the loss to Heritage, Wake Forest dropped to 4-7 overall and 1-1 in NAC 6 conference play. Barnes said the girls know what they need to do to get better and should have a more positive result the next time they play their rivals.
“The girls understand that the team who wins is the one who makes the least number of mistakes,” Barnes said. “Mentally, we have to be strong enough to drop our previous mistake and move on. We’ll start over next week and come back to regroup. This season has just started. We’re still able to do some big things. We’ve grown a lot together.”
As for Heritage, they improved to 8-4 overall and 2-0 against NAC 6 conference opponents. The Huskies continue their conference win streak they set last year. Furlough said the recent successful performances are coming from the girls not wanting to end the stretch of consecutive wins.
“These girls have a lot of heart,” Furlough said. “They don’t want to drop any game. They see other schools with banners hanging up in their gym and they want that for themselves. They want that recognition.”
Heritage will play Knightdale at home Tuesday Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. Wake Forest will take on Rolesville on the road the same date and time.