Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
WAKE FOREST — It was an intense volleyball match with back-and-forth scoring between rivals Heritage and Wake Forest. At the end of the night, the Huskies came out victorious 3-1 (20-25, 25-15, 27-25, 25-22) to complete the season sweep over the Cougars and extend their NAC 6 conference win streak.
Heritage head coach Jessica Furlough commented on how her players stuck to their style of play, even when they were falling behind on the scoreboard.
“I just kept telling the girls to play their game,” Furlough said. “When we dropped our first set, we didn’t show Heritage volleyball. The girls stepped it up in the second set. The girls fought hard tonight. When we play our game, we can beat anybody.”
The first set did not work in Heritage’s favor. Wake Forest jumped ahead 16-11 after a close contest in the beginning of the game. The Cougars finally pulled away to beat the Huskies 25-20 after a spike from Ramsey Schlafer.
After dropping the first set, Heritage bounced back and started off the second set 4-0. The Huskies extended that advantage to 10-3 and kept a steady lead throughout the rest of the game. A big block from Heritage middle hitter Shannon Ullman gave her team the 25-15 victory.
“The energy was really high all match,” Heritage senior Jessica Connelly said. “This is such an important game. It’s a competition between us and Wake Forest and we see it all over social media. When we were down and lost that first set, we had a mental check as a team.”
In the third set, it looked as if momentum was shifting back toward Wake Forest as they took a 10-5 lead. However, Heritage fought back and took the advantage at 14-13. The Cougars quickly took it back at 15-14 and then held on to the lead for a little while.
Heritage clawed their way back and took the lead again at 22-21. Wake Forest tied the game at 24-24, forcing a win-by-two scenario. Heritage tied it up at 25-25 and then scored the final points to win 27-25 after a return error off Wake Forest from a serve by Shirita Wells.
In the fourth and final set, Wake Forest showed no quit as they jumped ahead 9-3. Just like in the last game, Heritage came back and took the advantage midway through the set at 15-14. This time, the Huskies hung on to the lead from there to win the game. Wake Forest hit the ball out of bounds to finish the over two hour-long match and give Heritage the 25-22 victory.
“Obviously it feels great to get a win like this over our rival,” Furlough said. “Win or lose, we leave it all on the court. When you walk off the court, you make sure you did everything possible for your team. The girls have been doing that all year. We put that pressure on in practice and it shows in our games.”
The win over their rival marks the fourth time in a row Heritage has beaten Wake Forest. The Huskies swept the Cougars for the second season in a row. Their last loss to Wake Forest was Oct. 3, 2017 when they lost 3-1.
“It feels really good to get a season sweep over Wake Forest,” Connelly said. “We’re from the same place. We have so many friends between the two teams. This is my favorite game to play every season.”
With the loss, Wake Forest dropped to 7-10 overall and 4-3 in the NAC 6 conference. With three matches left in the regular season, two of them being conference matches, it seems unlikely that the Cougars will win the NAC 6. However, they still have plenty to play for with a 4A state playoff spot on the line.
With the win, Heritage improved to 13-5 overall and 7-0 in the NAC 6 conference. The Huskies are also 7-1 at home and have won five matches in a row. They also extended their conference win streak to 17 games dating back to an undefeated conference title last year.
“We’re going to take our errors and work on the little things,” Connelly said. “Everyone on this team works so hard in and out of practice.”
Furlough added that if the players do what they’re supposed to do every game, they can make a big run late in the season.
“We have to control the things we can control,” Furlough said. “When you have four missed serves in one set, it puts you in a hole. We have to send the ball in play. You can’t control how the other team hits. We have to put pressure on the other team.”
Heritage will play their final home game of the regular season against Wakefield Tuesday Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. Wake Forest will play at Corinth Holders that same night at 4:30 p.m. The Cougars will play their final game of the regular season at home against Rolesville Thursday Oct. 17 at 6 p.m.