|NewCath tops Highlands in classic volleyball battle|
|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands senior Emma Little accepts the 36th District All-Tournament team plaque from Highlands Director of Athletics Matt Haskamp.|
The Highlands Ladybirds (19-16) took the first two games of the 36th District championship against the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds by 26-24 and 25-1 scores. But the Thoroughbreds (21-14) rallied to take the next three games and win the match, 3-2 by scores of 25-17, 25-18 and 15-11.
"I might be biased, but I think this team is the pinnacle of what I've worked with," said Katelyn Sallee, Highlands Head Coach. "Individually, these girls have improved as the team has improved. We've just hit another level I think. That's why this loss is so hard because I feel this was a good year to do something. We did something special, but to pull through and take the district. This team could have done that."
Highland has lost 23 of the last 24 matches against NewCath dating back to 2005. The Ladybirds beat the Thoroughbreds in the district championship at Newport in 2012 for the lone win during that stretch.
Ladybird senior Lauren Epperson had a great game with 28 kills and senior Hannah Harris added 13 with senior setter Emma Little tallying 55 assists. Junior Gracie Schweitzer added 33 digs and Epperson had 31.
Highlands did a good job digging up NewCath power hitters Rachel McDonald and Mikah Freppon. But after the second game, the Thoroughbreds made a huge adjustment.
"They switched (McDonald) to the front row with the small setter that hurt us," Sallee said. "But, that's part of the game and we have to be able to adjust to that situation. We did the best we could. But they powered through, got some momentum and honestly, that fifth set could have gone either way. It's a 15-point set. If you have a two or three-point run, the game's over before you know it. We controlled the tempo in the first two sets. They controlled it in the second two sets and the fifth one was a toss-up."
The first game stayed tight. Severe thunderstorms and a tornado warning forced the Highlands administration to clear the gym for a bit. But once the game resumed, sophomore Margot Seidel put the game away with a kill and ace that caromed off the net and to the floor.
The second game also stayed tight before Highlands pulled away at the end. The Ladybirds won it on a bad NewCath pass.
But the Thoroughbreds pulled away quickly in the third game. Junior Lexy Breen served five straight points including an ace to put NewCath up 13-6. Highlands cut it to seven before NewCath won the game.
The fourth game stayed close until Lydia Hoover served four straight points to break a six-all tie. including an ace to put NewCath up 11-6. A tip kill by Epperson cut that lead to 19-16 before NewCath pulled away.
The deciding game started in favor of the Ladybirds with the first two points. Freshman Ava Hockney had a block kill and Epperson landed another kill. But tied at 11-all, McDonald landed a kill and Highlands made a bad pass to put NewCath up 13-11 before Anna Schneider had an ace and McDonald landed another kill to end the game.
The region tournament at the winner of the 34th District Tournament. Highlands has lost to Notre Dame in the first round of the 9th Region Tournament the last three years.
Postponed for a Day:
The Highlands Ladybirds soccer team (19-2-1) will complete the 9th Region semifinals at Tower Park against Boone County at 5:30 p.m. The Lady Rebels grabbed a 1-0 lead when Peyton Black booted in an indirect penalty kick literally feet from the goal even though Highlands had a nice wall set up.