Heritage Volleyball

Heritage girls’ volleyball coach Janet Hannigan has been impressed with her team’s performance this year, as it sits tied atop the Bay Valley Athletic League with rival Pittsburg.

“It’s a different season for everybody in our league,” she said. “It’s been anybody’s game, and there’s been some exciting matchups.”

Her Patriots have a 5-1 league record, with its only loss coming early this year to Pittsburg. They’ll get a chance to avenge that loss when they host the Pirates Thursday, Oct. 17.

“It will be exciting to play them again,” Hannigan said. “We went five sets last time, and they took the match. We didn’t play our best, so I’m hoping we’ve put together the right practice to get us set up.”

Hannigan said their last match against Pittsburg featured some unforced errors, and they’ll have to cut down on those in order to pick up a win this time around.

This season has been a bit of a surprise to Hannigan, who noted her team doesn’t have any superstars, instead relying on teamwork and camaraderie to guide its success.

“We have a lot of grit, a lot of hard work, and really great kids,” she said. “They’re nice to be around, they work so hard, so each season brings a little different vibe. It’s working for the girls, and they’re making it happen.”

Last year, Heritage finished second in the BVAL, behind Liberty. Since Hannigan began coaching the team at its inception in 2006, they’ve won six league championships. The goal is to take another one home this year.

“We’ve had a nice run,” said Hannigan. “We’re hoping to get another one. That would be great.”

Hannigan said she was most impressed with her team when they played Pleasant Valley (Chico) at a tournament in September. Her team lost in three sets, but they showed great potential against an extremely strong opponent.

“They’re a very solid team, one of the top teams in northern California,” she said of Pleasant Valley. “This team came in with some very solid skill sets and very well coached, and they were in the championship of the tournament. I knew we’d have our hands full. As it turns out, my team made adjustments and they were able to step up their game.”

Despite the three-set loss, Hannigan said her team kept fighting, and that has been a trademark of this year’s team.

The team’s goal is to make it to the playoffs, where the level of competition will produce new challenges.

“The NCS Division I is a pretty strong group this year, so I don’t know how far we’ll go,” admitted Hannigan. “We’ll see how we control the things that we can take care of. Unforced errors and making smart choices will definitely be some of the top things we can do.”

Thursday’s game against Pittsburg will not only be an important match for BVAL results — it will also be Heritage’s annual Dig Pink event. Proceeds will go to the Side-Out Foundation, a national organization whose mission is to fund breast cancer awareness and treatment efforts through youth education and empowerment, while unifying the volleyball community around a common cause.

“I really hope we have fans come to watch and support,” said Hannigan.

For more information about the Side-Out Foundation, visit www.side-out.org. For the donation link for Heritage’s fundraising efforts, email Janet Hannigan at Hannigan@lhusd.net.