|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands senior AJ Guth (2) passes the ball while Hannah Harris (12) gets in position in Wednesday's match against Newport Central Catholic.|
The Highlands Ladybirds came closer to that Wednesday, but could not pull out the win. NewCath escaped Highlands Middle School with a 3-2 victory (25-23, 25-20, 23-25, 15-25, 15-9).
"I am thrilled with what they showed me," said Katelyn Sallee, Highlands Head Coach. "It was probably the best all-around team performance of the year. We were on offensively and defensively."
The Thoroughbreds have won 20 of the last 21 meetings between the two teams. The only Highlands win in the series since 2005 came in the 2012 36th District championship game.
Highlands (12-13 overall, 2-1 district) saw a valiant effort from every player that took the floor. Junior Lauren Epperson led the Ladybirds with 15 kills, three aces and 30 digs with senior AJ Guth recoring 36 digs and two aces.
Emma Little had another good game with 36 assists for Highlands. Teammate Maria Hockney had 13 kills.
The main strategy was not letting NewCath junior hitter Rachel McDonald into a rhythm. McDonald lands a lot of balls when she gets a full swing.
"We targeted their best players," Sallee said. "We put a lot of pressure on them to do what they do really, really well. We had them in our grips for a period of time. In that fifth set, it just slipped out."
Highlands led in all five games. That included 13-8 in the first one and 20-19 in the second before NewCath rallied.
But Highlands came back to take the next two. Hockney finished the third game with a kill and the Ladybirds won the fourth game following a series of NewCath hitting errors.
Highlands plays in the Jefferson County Intvitational Volleyball Tournament on Friday and Saturday.
Highlands 10, Dayton 0:
The Ladybirds hit the double-digit win mark at 10-6 with their fifth straight win and finished 2-1 in 36th District play to earn the second seed in the district tournament. It marked the fourth shutout of the season for Highlands.
Highlands outshot Dayton, 41-0. Shannon Eaton and Olivia McQueary split time at goalkeeper. McQueary recently returned from injury.
Lindsey Meyer led Highlands with three goals with Lauren Ossege and sister Sydney scoring two each. Kylie Schuermann scored the game's long goal in the first half with Kiersten Clukey and Haley Dougherty scoring one each. Sydney Ossege also had two assists with Claudia Hills, Lauren Ossege, Schuermann and Clukey recording one assist each.
Highlands travels to St. Henry on Thursday. Game time is 7:45 p.m.