Story Matters

Story Matters

THE Official HHS Football Site

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Did the trend in the NC-Highlands volleyball series continue or swing the other way?

Allen Ramsey Photo. Highlands freshman Emma Delagrange (20) tries to block a spike attempt by Newport Central Catholic's Laura Brannon (3) in Tuesday's match. NewCath won 3-1.
Allen Ramsey Photo. Newport Central Catholic's Olivia Owens (center) reaches for the dig in Tuesday's 36th District match against Highlands while teammate Alexa Kehoe (5) and Highlands' Jessica Ginter (9) get in position. NewCath won for the 18th time in the last 19 meetings.
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

NEWPORT – This volleyball game portrayed what often happens with life.

The 36th District rival Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds and Highlands Ladybird volleyball teams looked good one game then not so good the next. But the Thoroughbreds (13-9) fought through the adversity for a 3-1 (25-16, 22-25, 25-8, 25-18) win to clinch the top seed in the district tournament to be played at Bellevue. They have a winning record against a tough schedule.

“It’s paying off huge. It’s a great combination of young and old and they all have bought in to what we’re doing,” said Vicki Fleissner, NewCath Head Coach. “They’re all working toward that one goal. There’s not one person that they rely on. It gives us a good, diverse offense.”

NewCath has won 18 of the last 19 meetings and finished 4-0 in district action. Highlands (11-14) still has to beat Bellevue and Newport to take the second seed in the district tournament. The Ladybirds are 1-1 in district play.

“You can never underestimate the power of the psychology of this game,” said Katelyn Sallee, first-year Highlands Head Coach. “I think coming in with confidence is one thing, but you have to maintain that. That’s something we’ll work on and develop as we become more mature as a team. We can’t expect a group of three girls to carry us. With a team like that, it has to be all six girls.”

The NewCath duo of freshman setter Mikah Freppon and sophomore outside hitter Rachel McDonald dominated. Freppon had 40 assists and McDonald 22 kills.

The Thoroughbreds once again dominated the net. Senior Keyaira Lankheit and Jamie Lohr made contributions at the net. Lankheit had 15 kills and nine blocks with Lohr going for eight kills and two blocks.

“We try our best to be a family and stick together so we know what’s going on the court,” Lankheit said. “We try to keep each other up as much as we can.”

NewCath also played great defense in the back row. Amanda Ruwe, Laura Brannon and Olivia Owens constantly made good digs back to Freppon.

“It’s about going after the ball, wanting the ball and beating it to the ground,” Ruwe said. “You need to have that confidence. My teammates need this giving my all. This shows us what we’re capable of.”

Highlands had some shining moments, especially when they attacked from the outside instead of right into the NewCath blocks. Senior Jessica Ginter led the Ladybirds with eight kills and Kaitlin Hall had 16 assists and two aces.

NewCath won the first game never trailing. But Highlands came out and scored the first four points of the second game. NewCath came back and took the lead briefly before the Ladybirds pulled it out.

The Thoroughbreds came out and scored the first seven points of the third game. They led 17-1 before the Ladybirds scored again.

“It is extremely frustrating,” Fleissner said “We won our five-setter against Cooper then we turned around and played Conner (on Monday). We were flat. We won but it’s hard to keep that intensity up. That’s something we have to work on. They’re getting there. It’s crunch time. This is the time of year you want to peak.”

Highlands led 2-1 to start the fourth game. But Lankheit recorded a block-kill and NewCath never looked back.

Highlands can still do some great thing to finish the season. Two more wins will equal the total of each of the past two years.

“Í’m not just looking ahead. I think every coach needs to look into the future, but right now in this season, I think we’ve made strides so I have to be happy with that but not satisfied,” Sallee said. “I’d like to have a winning season. I’d like to see the girls come into their (groove) entering the postseason and win some big matches.”

Both teams return to action Thursday. Highlands plays host to Bellevue and NewCath ventures to Lexington Tates Creek. Both games start at 7:30 p.m.

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