HEAT defeat Lancers, advance in Class 2A

Homeschool team wins hard fought semifinal match

Story and photos by E. Adam Porter 

On November 5, 2013, the Tampa Bay HEAT ladies volleyball team won three out of four games against the rival Cambridge Christian Lancers to advance in the Class 2A playoffs. 





The Tampa Bay HEAT volleyball team had defeated the Lancers three previous times this season, most recently in the District 7 Championship. But in two of these matches, the Lancers took the HEAT to the full five games. And Cambridge certainly came to play on this night.

Brandon Beacon Tampa Bay HEAT defeat Cambridge Lancers to win semifinals

But so did the HEAT

In GAME ONE, the Lancers took a 9-7 lead early before the HEAT’s strong team play closed the gap and gave the Ladies in Black a 12-10 lead. But moments later the Lancers were surging, using stingy defense and a volatile offense to take a 21-18 lead. Several back and forth exchanges gave the Lancers a 22-20 advantage. 

But three, no, make that four, straight aces later, the HEAT were up 24-22 and it looked like they were about to close out the first game on an offensive tear. Once again, the Lancers proved they were game, matching the HEAT point for point until the Tampa Bay finally put the game away, 26-24.

The HEAT struck first in GAME TWO, taking a 1-0 lead. The teams traded points, tying the game at 5 apiece until the Tampa Bay took a 6-5 lead on a powerful spike by junior, Victoria Trueheart. That spark ignited the HEAT, sending them on a run that put them ahead 10-6, aided by powerful serving from Rachel Tierney and excellent team play by everyone on the floor.

Then the Lancers woke up. Cambridge tied it at 13, took the lead and never looked back. The HEAT kept battling, but the Lancers could not be caught, winning game two 25-22.

In GAME THREE the HEAT once again took the first point. The next exchange turned into an extended volley in which everyone, including the ceiling, got a chance to touch the ball. The Lancers took the momentum and took a short-lived 8-7 lead.

Tampa Bay tied the game at 10 before Trueheart put the game on her back. Once again, #26 sparked the HEAT, dominating on both offense and defense. Elevating for blazing spikes at the net and launching aces from the backline.

The HEAT rallied behind her, working together, pushing hard and moving fast. The Lancers probed but could not find a weak spot in the HEAT defense for most of the game. Abigail Hodges, Mackenzie McFarland, Ari La Roe, Olivia Cook, Catherine Trueheart and Tierney put their side of the net on lockdown. 

Near the end, with the HEAT up 22-16, Cambridge finally mounted a small comeback, bringing the score to 23-20. It was not nearly enough. At 24-20, the ball once again arced toward Trueheart, who slammed it down to give the HEAT its second win of the match.

GAME FOUR was everything a semifinal game should be. Hard-fought, neck and neck. Countless lead changes. Every shot contested. Both the Lancers and the HEAT had moments where they looked poised to run away with it. But the other side stepped up and stole the momentum. The last run put the HEAT up 19-14.

HEAT fans were on their feet. You could feel it. The Tampa Bay HEAT were about to win their first ever Class 2A semifinal game. Then the Lancers came roaring back. In a gym where the fans were about to blow the roof off, the girls volleyed the ball and the lead.

The HEAT were up two with only two points separating them from victory. The Lancers evened the score at 23, then 24, then 25…then 26. With the crowd screaming and the teams glaring through the net at each other, neither side backing down, the HEAT once again took a one-point lead.

They lined up again. Game point and the ball was in the air. It hit the court on the Cambridge side. The game was over and Tampa Bay was victorious, 28-26. The players ran to embrace each other, and the stands erupted.

Congratulations, ladies.

This might be their first postseason run, but if the HEAT continue to play at this level, don’t expect it to be their last.




“I am a storyteller. Fortunately, that is also what I get paid to do.” - E. Adam Porter President of Atlas Multimedia Productions, a print and digital writing and editing service and the founder of AtlasProWriter.com. First published at the age of 20, Adam has been writing professionally ever since. He is the author of several books and his byline has appeared in hundreds of published newspaper and magazine articles.

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