Viera dominates Heritage to reach district volleyball final

Viera High seniors Hannah Carpenter (left) and Kelly Merz celebrate after winning a point during Tuesday night's Class 6A, District 12 tournament semifinal against Heritage. The Hawks swept the Panthers 25-8, 25-5, 25-12 to each Thursday's district final against Melbourne.

The points were quick.

Their domination was clear.

And now the Viera Hawks are one win away from achieving their goal of winning a district championship.

“I thought we played pretty good,” senior middle blocker Angie Durso said. “It was kind of slow … but I think we did a great job. We played at our level. We didn’t play down tonight. I thought we just took care of business.”

Taking care of business was the theme for the night as the Hawks defeated visiting Heritage 25-8, 25-5 and 25-12 in the semifinals of the Class 6A, District 12 tournament.

Viera (13-9) will face Melbourne (12-8) Thursday night at 6 in the championship match.

Junior Mak Carter had 11 blocks, five digs and a block to lead the Hawks. Junior Sydney Williams had six kills and five digs. Sophomore Mallory Merz had 15 assists. Senior Kelly Merz had 10 assists.

Seniors Hannah Bradford and Hannah Carpenter both had five digs. Freshman Haley Beigh had had seven aces. Sophomore Kasey Morgan had five aces.

“We did what we needed to do,” Viera coach Sarah Wayne said. “We served tough. We passed well. Everybody played. It was just a good atmosphere and a good message for our team – not for anybody else, just for ourselves – to what we want to do … of our goal of winning districts. One step closer.”

Looking up at the banners hanging in the Viera gym listing the accomplishments of all the teams and individuals throughout the school’s history, the one for volleyball has just one entry from 2011. That’s the one and only time the Hawks have won the district title.

And while the Melbourne Bulldogs will certainly have something to say about it, the Hawks would like nothing better than to see another district title added to that banner.

Durso, who had three kills on the night, said she and her teammates have always been motivated to win the title – Viera got to the finals last year as well – but that this year is different.

“Every year, it kind of haunts us,” she said. “That’s one of our big goals, to win districts. That’s the thing we look forward to. Last year, we got really close.

“… You have to have the mental mindset. You have to be in it. If you’re not there, they’re going to come and win. You have to have that strictly business mindset. I feel like that’s what we’ve been doing this year – playing at our level, 100 percent, all the time.”

It certainly showed Tuesday night as the Hawks were simply too much for the Panthers (6-19).

Viera won 17 of the final 18 points in the first set to pull away for a 25-8 win. The second set was even better for the Hawks, who led 11-1 and 23-2 before eventually closing it out at 25-5.

The Hawks brought in a number of players off their bench for the third set and were in control the whole way before polishing off the Panthers, 25-12.

Viera was particularly dominant on its serve, hitting 19 aces as a team.

“We did a lot of location practice (on Monday),” Wayne said. “When you serve really well, teams don’t get a chance to be in system. It’s been part of our team goals this year.”