Industrial grad Maddison Heibel knows the ins and outs of the Victoria College Sports Complex well.
A sophomore for VC, Heibel grew up playing YMCA volleyball in the gym she now calls home. She even played club volleyball for current Pirates coach Josh Moore growing up.
However, her path back home to the Crossroads wasn’t a conventional path.
Heibel spent two years playing for Division III Mary Hardin-Baylor from 2019 to 2021. After personal matters started calling her home, and COVID allowing college athletes a free year of eligibility, she saw an opportunity to play in front of her family and friends, and reunite with her club coach in her final year of playing volleyball.
“It was super exciting,” Heibel said of the opportunity. “It’s super exciting how everything circles around. I started here, played almost my entire career here, leave and then I get to finish my career here with so many coaches I love.”
Heibel is using her last season to help grow the young Pirates (2-7, 0-2) program.
In Thursday’s three-set loss to Wharton County Junior College (23-25, 12-25, 22-25), the Pirates started to see the benefit to Heibel’s experience.
VC sophomore, and Industrial grad, Maddison Heibel talks about the excitement playing at home after transferring from UMHB following the Pirates season opener. pic.twitter.com/oIWset0g3X— Sam Fowler (THE Fat Punter) (@FowlerSports14) September 3, 2021
The Industrial product delivered a team-high 14 assists and was the lynchpin to the breakthrough for freshman outside hitter Miyah White.
“A setter on any team is a leader because they’re the quarterback of the team, they guide the team,” Moore said. “So, having someone with (Heibel’s) experience is even twice as good. I coached Maddison when she was 13 for a club team, so I know her as a player. She’s always been a smart player. Knowing the right set, the right thing to do at the right time is huge.”
White tallied 7 kills, with most of them being set up by Heibel in the third and final set.
The San Antonio Wagner product had struggled in previous matches to adjust to the collegiate speed and intensity.
Before that third set, White asked Heibel to set it where she wanted it. Heibel hit that mark for White, and the freshman found her confidence.
“Once we get that set, we continue with that same one and get the ball rolling,” White said. “That’s what brings my energy up. Once I put the ball down, I know the set’s good and I can continuously do it without problems.”
VC freshman Miyah White talks about the 3rd set, where the Pirates rallied back from deficits to have a chance at forcing a 4th set. pic.twitter.com/3YvD0VH5z3— Sam Fowler (THE Fat Punter) (@FowlerSports14) September 3, 2021
At the junior college level, being able to have a leader with as much experience as Heibel is a rarity with players only getting two years of eligibility.
With the Pirates in their third year of existence, she’s relishing the opportunity to grow the program.
“It makes me feel really good that I can take on that role for the team,” Heibel said. “But coming in here, I didn’t really see myself as better than everybody. I know that everybody’s on the same playing field. I knew I had to prove myself on the court before I could take that leadership role.”
Wharton County Junior College 3, Victoria College 0
Victoria College 23 12 22
Wharton County 25 25 25
Highlights: (VC) Maddison Heibel 14 assists, 9 digs; Miyah White 7 kills, 1 dig; Makenzie Gerlach 2 kills; 18 digs, 1 ace; Kennedy Willoughby 6 kills; (WC) Tori Arrington 14 kills, 7 digs; Ysabella Lockwood 12 kills, 8 digs; Haley James 5 kills, 7 digs; Tori Gehret 22 digs. Records: VC 2-7.