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Prep Volleyball: Eagles soar through MDCC again

October 09, 2012|By DANIEL KAUFFMAN | kauffman@herald-mail.com
  • Heritage Academy's Christi Jackson, right, blocks the kill attempt of Cumberland Valley Christian's Marin Kearns (10) during Tuesday night's Mason Dixon Christian Conference volleyball match at Heritage.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Going undefeated through the Mason Dixon Christian Conference regular season is nothing new for Heritage Academy. After all, the Eagles haven’t lost an MDCC regular-season or tournament match since the 2009 tournament semifinals.

Tuesday’s 25-16, 25-19, 25-15 sweep of Cumberland Valley Christian capped another perfect regular season for Heritage, an accomplishment even senior star Kara Stamper and coach Young-Sook Anderson have to be impressed by — if not entirely surprised.

Stamper had 23 kills, four aces and two blocks to lead the Eagles (15-0, 14-0), as she always does — and she’s had to lead this season like never before. She’s the only senior and the only returning starter from last year’s squad, guiding a team that has six sophomores, three freshmen and two eighth-graders on the 13-player varsity roster.

“It’s just really amazing,” said Stamper, who’s averaging 6.51 kills per set this season after recovering from a torn ACL suffered at the end of February. “It’s a different kind of special. ... It’s special in its own way with me being a leader and having to step up. It’s been encouraging and amazing to see them all take it upon themselves to step up to the plate.”

“This year was a completely different year for Kara as a leader and her role on the court with these young ladies, and she’s done it tremendously,” Anderson said.

Heritage’s streak of best-of-5 victories reached 52 matches. The Eagles’ only two losses since the start of the 2010 season came in best-of-3 matches at last year’s National Association of Christian Schools Division I tournament, in which they finished second and Stamper was named an All-American.

That streak came close to ending on Oct. 2 at Shalom Christian, when the Flames won the first two sets before Heritage rallied. The Eagles also dropped the first set at CVCS (10-4, 10-4) on Sept. 11 before rolling to a 3-1 victory.

A fast start was a priority for Anderson on Tuesday, and the Eagles responded. Stamper had eight kills and a block in Set 1, and sophomore Christi Jackson — who has emerged as a second weapon this season — added five kills and a block in the set. Stamper had four kills as Heritage closed the set with an 8-1 run.

“We didn’t start fast at CVCS, so that was my main pregame talk with the girls, that we had to start good,” said Anderson. “As a 10th-grader, Jackson is really stepping up.”

Stamper scored the Eagles’ first two points of Set 2 with kills, then served four aces in a seven-point run that gave Heritage a 10-3 lead. Stamper finished with six kills, four aces and a block in the set, and the Blazers ruined any chances of a comeback in the set with 12 errors.

The Eagles started Set 3 with a 7-1 run behind three of Stamper’s nine kills in the set, and CVCS hurt itself with eight more errors. Jackson had a block and a kill to close out the match and Heritage’s perfect regular season.

Chloe Prejean — an eighth-grader — had 29 assists and three kills, while Jackson finished with nine kills and two blocks for the Eagles. Junior Nicole Gaylor led the defense with 12 digs, Stamper had 10 digs, sophomore Bethany Powell had eight digs and sophomore Hannah Gaylor added seven digs.

“I lost five starters. This is a whole new group of girls, and they’ve stepped up,” Anderson said. “It was tough, especially the away matches because we had the target on us and every team was ready to play us.”

Marin Kearns had 11 kills, Anna Bunting had seven kills and two aces, Jessie Thrush had five kills and Karli Fogal had 27 assists for the Blazers.

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