Bearden overpowers Heritage
By Will Estep | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
KNOXVILLE — Heritage needed only one more victory to advance to the finals of the District 4-AAA volleyball tournament. A large hurdle was standing in the way of getting to that point, though.
Heritage had to knock off regular season district champion Bearden on Wednesday night in the semifinals to move onto the championship, but they came up short in a four-set loss.
Top-seeded Bearden won the first two sets against No. 5 Heritage and then held off a comeback attempt by the Lady Mountaineers. The match at Catholic High School ended up 25-15, 25-10, 21-25, 25-14 as the Lady Bulldogs advanced to the title game to play rival Farragut.
Getting down two sets quickly in the contest put Heritage (24-18) in a hole in what turned out to be the Lady Mountaineers last match of the season after coming off of two district tournament wins on Tuesday to keep the season alive.
“It’s very hard,” said Heritage coach Lisa Collins about coming back from two sets down. “In this district at this level it’s next to impossible. We knew it going in that we might come out flat. That was my concern. It’s hard to battle when you are coming off that steep emotion, and then have to come into this atmosphere, it’s tough.”
The match was the first for Bearden in the tournament and the Lady Bulldogs looked unstoppable until the third set as Heritage showed no signs of going down easily. Heritage lost the second set 25-10, but came back to win the third 25-21.
“We got outgunned tonight, and that’s all it was,” Collins said. “We came out flat in the first two, which it’s hard to overcome that. They played their hearts out, and they have got a lot to be proud of.”
Bearden led 18-16 in the third set before Heritage went on a roll and closed out the set on a 9-3 run. All throughout the third set and the match, seniors Katie Miller and Brittany Rop contributed in a huge way for the Lady Mountaineers in the final match of their careers. Miller finished with 24 assists, nine digs and four kills. Rop came up with 15 digs and eight points in the match.
A spot in the championship match was clinched for Bearden after winning the fourth set 25-14.
“This year, they (Bearden) just out-powered us,” Collins said. “Had we been a little fresher, it might have helped us a little bit, but tonight they just out-powered us with their hitters. That’s tough.”
The loss for Heritage marked the end of five high school careers. Miller, Rop, Taylor Dennis, Brooklyn Howard and Mary Alison Capps all wrapped up their four-year playing careers in the loss.
“I’m so proud of them,” Collins said. “It’s going to be difficult to replace them. They have done a lot for Heritage volleyball.”
Dennis chipped in 11 digs in the four-set loss. Howard recorded 10 kills and five points and Capps finished with seven digs in the Lady Mountaineers final game. Junior Kelly Wolfe put up four blocks and three kills for Heritage.
Both Bearden and Farragut advanced and clinched spots in the Region 2-AAA Tournament by advancing to the finals of the district tournament.