Determined Pats fall short in sectional opener

Photos by Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald
Heritage Hills' Weslie-Anne Cochren, left, and Lilly Vance jump to try and block a spike from Mt. Vernon's Brooklyn Shell during Thursday's sectional match in Lincoln City. The Wildcats defeated the Patriots 3-1 (25-14, 25-21, 21-25, 25-18) in the opening round of the IHSAA Class 3A sectional. For more photos from the match, click here.


LINCOLN CITY — Trailing two sets to none in their opening sectional match, the Heritage Hills volleyball team could’ve just rolled over and looked toward next season.

But knowing how the Patriots operate, giving up is never an option.

The Pats started fast by jumping out to a 10-4 lead in the third set and ended up winning the game 25-21. Even though they ended up falling 3-1 (14-25, 21-25, 25-21, 18-25) in the match to Mount Vernon, the effort Heritage Hills showed to not go down without a fight was exactly what head coach Kayla White expected to see.

“I think that’s just the mentality they have,” White said. “We had our invite last weekend and we played the best we had all season. I told the girls I needed to see that Saturday team and they did what they needed to do (in the third set) — they knew they had to play together and it worked.”

What seemed to carry the Wildcats in the victory on Thursday night was rather simple — momentum.

In the opening set, the first ten or so points went back and forth until eventually Mount Vernon gained some separation to pull ahead 9-5 and force a Heritage Hills timeout. The Wildcats would gain full control over the rest of the set as they stretched their lead all the way to 11 points en route to a 25-14 set one win.

The second set was a much more balanced affair. Mount Vernon once again was able to gain control early as they got out to a 9-5 lead but Heritage Hills (15-11) continued to stay within striking distance. After the Cats got up to a 20-15 lead late in the set, Heritage Hills won five out of six points to tie the match at 21 all. However, Mount Vernon used momentum after a big kill at 22-21 to win the final three points and win the set 25-21.

“As a player, you know that’s what it is. You know if you have the momentum then you’re going to run far,” White said. “We had it at times but it’s sometimes hard to grab and keep. Mount Vernon had it and used it and they knew when to use it right — they had a pretty stout team.”

Heritage Hills began to gain the momentum back in the third set as some big plays by sophomore Rebekah Gordon and senior Grace Vinson helped get the Pats off to a 10-4 lead. Mount Vernon would trim the lead to as little as one point at 16-15 but a kills at the end of the set from Vinson and junior Wes Cochren clinched the third set 25-21 for the Pats.

Trying to force a deciding fifth set, the Patriots and Cats exchanged points early in the set as neither team could gain a large advantage. However, Mount Vernon slowly started to pull away midway through the set and used the remainder of their momentum to pull them through for a 25-18 fourth set win and 3-1 match victory.

The two players who caused the most problems for the Patriots were Wildcat sophomore attackers Elizabeth Steinhart and Brooke Jackson. White said the athleticism and skills those two showed were impeccable.

“They were smart, they’re two phenomenal hitters, and they’re just hard to stop,” White said. “As long as (Steinhart and Jackson) were hitting, they would have the momentum.”

Heritage Hills' Madison Hagedorn dives to try and dig a spike from Mt. Vernon during Thursday's sectional match in Lincoln City. The Patriots recorded 87 total digs in the loss as Hagedorn finished with 11. Junior Hannah Schnuck led the way with 31 digs while fellow junior Brianna Quinn was also in double digits with 11. For more photos from the match, click here.

Stat leaders for Heritage Hills were Grace Vinson (nine kills), Wes Cochren (nine kills), Rebekah Gordon (eight kills, five blocks), Hannah Marchand (16 assists), Hannah Schnuck (31 digs), Brianna Quinn (11 digs) and Madison Hagedorn (11 digs).

While the Patriots will graduate four seniors (Vinson, Hagedorn, Mariah Zoglman and Sierra Schipp), they will return a large amount of underclassmen who were in their first year of varsity action this past season.

White believes the experience the younger girls got this year will pay dividends moving forward.

“I think the fact that three of our key players were either freshmen or sophomores is phenomenal,” White said. “I think being a young team might not necessarily have hurt us, but it was a factor and we’re still learning. They’re going to be experienced players for the next two to three years — it was a learning game this year, but it’ll help us next year.”

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