MIDLOTHIAN — The stage is set for act two for No. 3 Midlothian Heritage and No. 1 Glen Rose.
Coincidently, the two teams walk onto the volleyball court Friday in Glen Rose with the same rankings in the Texas Girls Coaches Association 4A state poll as their previous meeting on Aug. 24. The Lady Tigers won the first meeting in four sets, though Heritage was without a key player and still learning how to play under first-year MHHS head coach Timmi Blackshear.
"We do look a little different than we did the first time we played them," said Blackshear after a road win over No. 25 Stephenville last Tuesday, Sept. 19. "We have a great roster of hitters, but just like most other teams, we are very serve-receive dependent. When we are passing up good balls, we are really hard to beat. We struggled with serve receive and being disciplined in the details last time. We just have to keep focusing on that ball control, good decision-making, and minimizing those unforced errors."
Heritage (26-3, 5-0 in 8-4A) enters Friday's showdown having won 13 consecutive contests. Glen Rose has not lost — like, at all. The Lady Tigers are a perfect 36-0 on the season.
In a three-set sweep of Life Waxahachie on Friday (25-13, 25-17, 25-8), Kelsey Carpenter led the team with 13 kills, while both Julia Valdez and Katie Greer sent home 10 kills and Hannah Larson added eight. Valdez also accounted for a team-high 20 digs to go with Rachel Richie's team-leading 28 assists. Tori Needels added 20 assists and eight digs, as well. Kaylee Rutenbar and Valdez each added a pair of aces.
Heritage followed with its fifth straight-set sweep in District 8-4A in as many tries on Tuesday. Scoring was at a premium though in the 25-7, 25-12, 25-4 win over Alvarado, as the Lady Indians committed a fair share of unforced errors.
Needels, however, made the most of the opportunity and fired home seven aces. She also added 15 assists to finish just behind Richie's 17.
Carpenter and Greer led the Jaguars with seven kills, each, and Larson added six. Valdez accounted for three aces, three kills, and 13 digs.
Karena Tipton led the team with five blocks.
"The focus, no matter what we have coming up, has always been to use each day and every rally as an opportunity to improve and get better," Blackshear said. "[...] It is that type of clean and aggressive volleyball that we need to continue to play and work towards that will prepare us for Glen Rose."
The first serve in Tiger Arena is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 29.