|Highlands Volleyball, Boys Soccer Teams Record Victories|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands senior Audrey Graves sets up on a serve in the game at Walton-Verona on Tuesday. Graves had 53 assists and an ace in the victory.|
Highlands held off the Walton-Verona Bearcats (5-3) by a 3-2 count (25-18, 18-25, 25-18, 23-25, 15-7) for a third straight win. But Highlands missed the opportunity to end it in four games and wants to do better finishing those opportunities.
"For us, it came down to controlling our side of the net," said Katelyn Sallee, Highlands Head Coach. "(They Bearcats) did a really nice job and made it tough for us to score. But ultimately, it's the basics. When we were not taking care of business, we weren't handling the ball at the net and we got in trouble. In some clutch situations, we relied on a few people to kind of dig us out of that hole. Thankfully, it happened."
Highlands saw solid production from the three three-year starting seniors. Outside hitter Casey Dunn had 11 kills, six aces and 22 digs. Setter Audrey Graves had 53 assists and a serving ace to go with nine digs. Middle blocker Ava Hockney had 15 kills and two solo blocks.
Sallee said the Highlands 5-1 offense is built around the middle blockers in Hockney and sophomore CC Shick. Shick had 15 kills.
"I think we just executed more (in game five) and just had more energy in the last sets," said Laura Winkler, Highlands junior. "We're blocking a lot so we had to move our coverage, but I thought we started to pick it up more later in the game."
But Sallee credited sophomore Lauren Buemi for making some plays at middle blocker to finish off the game. Buemi had five kills and a solo block.
"It was exciting to see some things at the end," Sallee said. "It was a bit of a wake-up call. We have some things to work on."
After Dunn, the three defensive specialists had double-digit digs for Highlands. Senior Rylee Kirschenbaum led the way with 13 and senior Brooke Biltz had 12 with sophomore Madison Clore digging up 11.
"Lately, we've been struggling, but we've been practicing trying to nail down the passes and stick our platforms," Clore said. "We've improved since the first game. Once you keep practicing over again, you stick it. We definitely have to be loud and talk to each other in order to get a good pass."
Highlands hit just .177 recording 54 kills on 164 attempts with 25 errors. The Bluebirds also had 54 assists, 17 aces, 72 digs, three solo blocks, four blocking errors, five general ball hitting errors, 19 receiving errors and 10 serving errors.
Highlands takes on Dixie Heights (3-1) in Fort Thomas on Thursday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Highlands 3, Campbell County 0:
The Labor Day weekend did wonders for the Bluebirds (5-2-1) as they ended their three-game winless streak.
The game ended four minutes into the second half because of facility issues. Games have to reach halftime in order to become official.
Highlands dominated the shot category, 15-3 including 6-1 on goal. Highlands goalkeeper Nick Fischer had one save.
"We played really well," said Chad Niedert, Highlands Head Coach. "We had a tough schedule and that was by design. But you find yourself at times where you get stuck kind of in a rut. We could try to push through it or we could could take a break to regroup. We actually didn't practice (Labor Day). We went out and made sure we had some fun. We were clearly the most dominant team throughout."
Senior Caymon Stevie led Highlands with three points on a goal and assist. Juniors Brayden Gillman and Austin Frazier had the other goals with senior George Gates and junior Max Farris recording assists.
"Our coaches told us at practice on Friday, we've been going non-stop since early in July with no breaks," Gillman said. "He told us to relax, take some time off with our families and come back ready to go on Tuesday night. I think we really came out and played well together. That little bit of rest really gave us a boost for this game."
Highlands plays host to Covington Holy Cross (2-2-2) on Thursday. Game time is 8 p.m.