For the second year in a row, the Heritage Christian Academy volleyball team went to White Auditorium in Emporia for the Kansas Class 2A tournament and brought home a first place trophy on Saturday.
A late block by freshman right-side Katrina Davis led Heritage to a 25-23 edge in the first game of the championship match and reversed the momentum of Goessel, a team that entered the state finals undefeated. Heritage won the second game 25-15 to secure its state title.
“Goessel did not seem to come back out with the same ‘We’re a 39-0 team and we will not be beat’ mentality,” said Tom Slaughter, who’s coached at Heritage for two years. “I figured the next game was going to be a straight up battle, but they let a lot of what I would consider simple errors get them. … Once we got a five-point lead, we kept pushing forward and forward. It was too big of a deficit (for them).”
Heritage finished its season at 36-9, matching the mark the team set last year when it won its first title in history, and handily beat all but one of its opponents during the tournament. Kiowa County forced Heritage into a third game on Friday when it tied the match with a 25-23 victory in the second game. Heritage won the final game 25-20, then swept each of its remaining matches in the tournament.
Heritage has played a major role in the 2A tournament for three years now. It was runner-up in 2015, the season coach Janice Van Gorp died. When Slaughter came in the following year, he inherited a roster that included Kate Allen, Faith Hammontree, Rebecca Davis and Savannah Crossland — each of whom was determined to make another run. Heritage lost one match in pool play, but swept the tournament semifinals and finals in 2016.
“We knew we had the capability to go back but they don’t give away those things for free,” Slaughter said. “You never know what’s going to go on at state. Substate was sort of a point where we came back together. We played lights out and we took that momentum back to state.”