By Joel Clinger for The Robertson County Connection
White House Heritage has won every meeting with White House in volleyball, and the Patriots came away with another victory Thursday night; albeit a close one.
White House started out strong, taking the first five points of the match. Heritage could not come all the way back as the Blue Devils took the first set 25-21.
The Patriots responded with a hard-earned set of their own. They took a 7-3 lead but faced a 20-18 deficit going down the stretch. Heritage won seven of the next nine points to claim their first set.
The Blue Devils led the entire third set but needed to come up with clutch points at the end to pull out a 25-23 win. They were only one set shy of defeating their cross-town rivals for the first time.
But the Patriots took over the match in the fourth set.
Heritage opened up the set on a 9-2 run and controlled the set to the finish, resulting in a 25-17 win. The fifth set was more of the same as the Patriots dominated the Blue Devils 15-3 to stay undefeated in the all-time series.
The dramatic shift in the fourth set kept Heritage undefeated in district play. Head coach Brandon Niblock said the difference between the first three sets and the final two was clear.
“Straight up, serving, that was it,” Niblock said. “That’s what my message was to them. There was a lot of heart in the first three sets on White House’s side, but there was a lot of error on our side. And that was the difference.”
Niblock and his team are happy to keep the streak alive. Even though they have never lost to their rivals, each game means so much.
“That’s kind of the test every year because White House, it’s a rivalry game,” Niblock said. “We love our district because every game is a rivalry game, but this one is always special. It doesn’t matter what’s happening in district play. It doesn’t matter what’s happening in either one of our seasons. We both come, and we both duke it out.”
White House coach Kassie King was pleased with her girls’ effort but said Heritage knew how to get past them.
“Honestly, they found the weakness,” King said. “They found that we couldn’t quite cover their tips tonight. That’s what kind of got us. We were watching a little bit on defense, and our feet got stuck. We just didn’t move to the ball like we should have tonight.”
White House is at a disadvantage this season in terms of height. Most teams have a couple inches on the Blue Devils. Coach Dani Villifana and King have to find ways around that.
“We try to build them up with height, in confidence,” Villifana said. “We just make plays around it, focus on defense, and the offense will fall into place.”
“We try to be a scrappy team as much as we possibly can since we don’t have the height,” King said. “I think our girls do a really good job with that. I think our girls have got heart. They play very well as a team when they’re on. We’re still working through some things right now, early in the season, so we’re still in a good spot.”
The two teams will face each other again on Sept. 24 at Heritage. The Blue Devils will be trying once again to get their first win over the Patriots.