Midlothian Heritage is still one week away from playing its first district volleyball match, but the Jaguars are certainly building momentum against stiff competition after a three-set sweep Tuesday against Decatur.

Next up? A road match Tuesday, Sept. 18 against 6A Allen.

On Tuesday, the Jaguars defeated Decatur at home, 25-13, 25-14, 25-12.

Kelsey Carpenter led the team with 10 kills, while Hanna Larson had nine, Karena Tipton and Grayce Davis both had four and Julia Goerig added two. As a team, the Jaguars recorded a .260-hitting percentage and committed just two service errors.

Kaylee Rutenbar led the team with 15 digs. Katie Chambers and Carpenter both notched eight digs and Kaylee Keasler finished with seven.

Rachel Richie (17) and Carpenter (13) led the way in the assists department.

THE GRANDER GOAL

Before the Midlothian Heritage Jaguars ever took the volleyball court this season, they knew the likelihood of repeating last season’s early success would be a tall task.

And that was by design, explained head volleyball coach Timmi Blackshear, who is now into her second year with the program.

So far, they have survived a grueling stretch ahead of the district slate with their heads above water and the .500-mark, sitting at 17-13 ahead of a 4:30 p.m. matchup Friday with 5A Aledo, Tuesday hosting of Decatur and a trip the following Tuesday to 6A Allen.

Over the last two weeks, the Jaguars swept 5A Mansfield Legacy, 5-16, 25-11, 25-14, and played well against 5A Aledo. They now face a 5:30 p.m. match against 6A Allen next Tuesday before opening District 17-4A at 4:30 p.m. on the road Friday, Sept. 21 against Alvarado.

“It was definitely intentional how I scheduled things,” Blackshear said. “Because of our district schedule, I felt it was very important for us to have a very tough preseason. I don’t ever want us to grow complacent or to think that we are at the standard at which we need to be.

“I have been preaching since the spring that this season our record may not be 33-4 and that is OK. We are not going to focus on preseason records; it is a time for us to get better and to see higher-level volleyball to challenge us and to push us because we do need to get that experience for district gets here.”

She added that a district championship, though it would be the first for the program, is “not anything close to where our expectations will be for this season.”

Blackshear explained the goal is to accomplish what the Jaguars fell just short of last season, which ended in a three-set loss to No. 2 (49-2) Glen Rose in the 4A Region I Finals.

Heritage also set a school record in wins (33), playoff wins (4) and reached the program’s highest-ever ranking in the Texas Girls Coaches Association 4A poll (No. 2) last season.

“With just it being year two, the girls already know the expectations and they already know the standards,” Blackshear said. “We have a really comfortable familiarity with each other at this point so now I feel like we can concentrate on pushing our level of play just that much higher.

“I fully expect for us to pick up where we left off and move forward without a lot of going backward. Because of the success we had last year, they kind of know that our expectations are just that much higher — and not just from them or from me, but I think our community, which is good to have their support and expectations.”

Blackshear also noted early in the season that the dynamic is a little different than last year without Julia Valdez, Tori Needels and Katie Greer, who all graduated in May. But she also noted that the natural leadership ability of the group of returners has thoroughly impressed the coaching staff.

“The thing that I really love about this group, and I tell them all the time that we are going to have to be a little more patient this season as far as lineups go because we are so dynamic,” Blackshear said. “I really feel like any kid can play any position and we would be successful,” Blackshear said. She added that the early portion of the season was used to put together the pieces of the Jaguars puzzle to make the team as successful as possible.

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Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith

(469) 517-1470