Heritage volleyball coach Sarah Miser likes the way her team continues to build confidence in the 7A/6A-West.
She’d be a little happier if the Lady War Eagles can sustain the momentum.
Junior Maddie Hotelling caught fire in the third game and helped Heritage beat Van Buren, 25-22, 13-25, 25-13, 25-23, as Heritage remained unbeaten in conference play Tuesday at Bates Arena.
Hotelling led Heritage (10-3-1, 4-0) with 15 kills. Sophomore Ellison Dunagin had 12 kills and sophomore Libero Alye Darter, who played phenomenally on the back row, led the Lady War Eagles with 20 digs.
"Our girls have a tendency to play right with teams — whether they’re better than that team or not," Miser said. "We have to learn how to take care of business on our side, when we have the momentum. Volleyball is such a momentum sport, when we have that and we’re a few points ahead, sometimes we’ll let down. We have to push and be able to finish."
Heritage was able to finish off a Van Buren team that appeared to have grabbed the momentum following an impressive win in the second game, only to come out flat-footed in the third game.
The Lady Pointers (6-5, 1-3) overcame an emotional loss in the opener with an outstanding run in the second game.
"Defensively, early on in the first game, I thought we were kind of slow and I called them out on it," Van Buren coach Stephanie Hill said. "They started playing a little more aggressively, and I think that made a difference. Defensively, if you’re not aggressive, you’re not going to get the ball."
But as good as Van Buren looked in the second game, Heritage was too much in the third and built a 15-5 lead and coasted the rest of the way.
"The second game we came out and played solid volleyball," Hill said. "That’s what I’ve been preaching to these kids — if you just do what you’re capable of doing, there’s no telling what you can accomplish."
Paced by junior outside hitter Chloe Bauman’s 15 kills and 10 digs, the Lady Pointers built an 8-5 lead in the fourth, eventually padding its lead to 13-9. But a block by Emily Kurtz, sandwiched between a kill by Dunagin and an ace from Kurtz, pulled the Lady War Eagles within two at 15-13.
Van Buren regained the momentum thanks to kills by Bauman and Emilee Aaron which gave the Lady Pointers a 17-14 lead.
Back-to-back kills by Hotelling capped a 6-1 run, which gave Heritage a 20-18 lead.
Alyssa Hilmer’s kill put Van Buren in front, 21-20. Hotelling put Heritage ahead, 23-22, and then two Lady Pointers hitting errors completed the Lady War Eagles’ victory.
For Fan Buren, Aaron and Cayla Crider had six kills each and Greer Rogers finished with five. Addy Hall led Van Buren with 15 digs and Maddie Klomfas and Tori Stafford had 23 and 13 assists for Van Buren.