- Orange County School District
Orange High School Volleyball takes on the 2023 NCHSAA Championship with new coach Hope Heverly
Novmeber 21, 2023 | Jala Davis
For most high school students, their school gym is probably the last place they imagined themselves on Halloween.
But, on Tuesday, Oct. 31 Orange High School (OHS) students were doing just that as they and many other fans filled the stands to watch their Panthers go head to head with the Carrboro High School (OHS) Jaguars for their chances at becoming the 2023 NCHSAA Volleyball Championship 3A title holders.
Tensions were high as the two teams went head to head in all five sets and the scores were close. The minutes were winding down as the teams battled to the very end with the game coming to a close with sophomore Aubrey Jordan completing her 13th and final kill.
The crowd erupts and the rest of the team runs to the court. The Panthers have just won the regional championship and their next stop, the State Championship.
This win comes after an outstanding season where the team held a 20 game win streak from Aug. 21 to Oct. 17 only for that streak to be broken by district opponent Cedar Ridge High School, 3-1. The win streak picked back as the team maintained another five game win streak until the state championship.
Success this fall season came under the coaching of OHS alumni, Hope Heverly. Although this is her first year coaching in Orange County, Heverly has experience on thecourt as both a player and a coach.
This wouldn’t be her first time at the State finals either, as she found herself in that very same spot when she played sport as a teenager.
“I am an alumni of Orange High School and some of my most fond memories are my times when I played volleyball with my teammates. My most memorable (moment) is when we made it to the State Championship and our journey to get there,” Heverly said.
Creating team goals, she said, was imperative in preparing and making this a great season.
“By creating these goals we would do random temperature checks to make sure we as a team, we were on the right track to reach all our goals. And this season the girls met every goal they set,” she said.
What were the goals this season? To be 9-3 for non-conference games, win the conference and make it to State finals.
Photo Credit: Jacques Morin
“The girls stayed ‘locked in’ and focused as they reached each goal they set for the season,” Heverly said.
The team accomplished each and every goal they set for themselves.
The team had quite the turn around from the previous year, as their overall record this season is 27-5 compared to the 19-11 overall record in the 2022-23 season.
While Heverly was leading this team to success, she was also at Efland-Cheeks Global Elementary (ECGE) leading her students to success as a math coach.
Kelly Parks, Principal of ECGE was a huge support system for Heverly as she balanced two positions at two different schools.
“She (Parks) fully supported me on taking on this position and entrusted that I would be able to balance being a volleyball coach and math coach,” Heverly said.
Parks says Heverly’s abilities in the classroom have translated well onto the court and that her passion to support the youth has been captivating to watch.
“She is constantly reflecting on what she can do to improve her practice, connect with her colleagues, and celebrate big and small wins. This has transitioned well into her coaching role as she supports others in reaching their goals through hard work, commitment, and perseverance,” she said.
On Nov. 4, 14 girls traveled to NC to go head to head with Kings Mountain High School at Reynolds Coliseum to be named the State Champion. Unfortunately, the Panthers fell short to the Mountaineers and lost the game, 3-2, making them the runner-up.
However, this loss won’t stop the momentum the team has and the culture they’ve built as they prepare for the next season.
“We are looking forward to continuing to grow as a team for next season, we will build off our current strengths to continue to always perform at our best. We will prepare for this by staying goal oriented and focused on the overall result,” Heverly said.
Photo Credit: Jacques Morin