Serving keeps Heritage perfect on the season

Still without a blemish.

Heritage defeated Cedar Shoals 25-9, 25-12 on Thursday to remain unbeaten at 7-0 in Area 8-AAAA. The Patriots, who also swept two games from local rival Newton in non-area play, shook off a Tuesday loss to another Class AAAAA team, Norcross, with a dominant performance over the Jaguars.

In game one, Heritage jumped out to a 10-3 lead on the strength of two aces by Jenny Chapman and another from Mikala Flonnoy. Cedar Shoals, which didn't score an offensive point in the game, got to within 14-6 thanks to a Heritage error. But the Jaguars made two errors of their own, Taylor Bailey had three kills - two off Flonnoy set ups - and Flonnoy's ace sealed the 25-9 win.

"I think offensively we were serving them off the court," Heritage coach David Buddenbaum said. "That set up our offense (and) our serve put them on the defensive."

Cedar Shoals kept game two tight early. Rachel Adam's block kill, the Jaguars' first offensive point of the match, and two aces from Karsen Weems put Cedar Shoals up 10-8.

Heritage didn't flinch, going on a 17-2 run to close the match. During the run, Bailey chipped in with six kills and Flonnoy added two more aces.

"We went on a run, and a lot of that was Mikala's serve," Buddenbaum said. "She was serving all over the court. We have some things that we're focusing on and that's never giving up in a match. And I don't think we've given up in a match this year. This team doesn't give up."

Heritage had little trouble with Newton in the night's opening match. The Patriots broke open a tight game one and led 15-9 before Chapman completely took over with the serve. During a 10-0 spurt to close the 25-9 victory, Chapman had six aces and Bailey (two kills) and Rachel Jubran (one kill) did the rest.

"(Chapman) served a nice, little run. She had a nice focus," Buddenbaum said. "The thing about serving is, it's like pitching, you try to throw them off. There's a lot of girls (on Heritage) that can go on that kind of serve run."

"They play really hard those first few points and then I don't know what happens," Newton coach Shandelyn Carter said. "Nerves get to them I think."

The Rams made the night cap much closer despite going down 14-4 midway through the game. Thanks to five Heritage errors and an ace, Newton cut the lead to 14-10, but Arabia Umrani and Olivia Wasdin had kills and three more Newton errors gave the Patriots a 20-12 lead. Umrani added another kill and an ace and Bailey slammed home a kill off a feed from Jabron to help seal the 25-15 win.

Newton also dropped a pair of games to Cedar Shoals, 25-20, 25-11. The Rams held a slim lead of 12-11 in game one, but a combination of nine errors and three aces from Amanda Johns and another from Ke Ke Lattimore let Cedar Shoals pull away. In game two, the Jaguars turned an early 3-1 deficit into a comfortable lead thanks to an 11-0 run that made it 12-3. Newton got as close as 15-6, but Johns had two more kills and an ace in the 25-11 triumph.

"I was more pleased with their level of play (against Heritage)," Carter said. "(But), I think they finally see that they're a team."