|Highlands Golf Finishes Third at Region|
|Twitter Photo. Highlands juniors Luke Muller (left) and Justin Gabbard (right) qualified for the state tournament Tuesday.|
Highlands placed third at the 8th Region Tournament on Tuesday at Eagle Creek Golf Course in Dry Ridge shooting a 322 as a team. The Grant County Braves won the region to qualify for state as a team and the Henry County Wildcats took second with 321. Only the region champ advances to state as a team unlike previous years when the region champ and runner-up advanced to state.
"It was what I expected," said Bert Richey, Highlands Head Coach. "We are pretty young in our bottom two spots. The kids played as hard as they could. Grant County has five really good golfers. It was on their home course. That's one of the reasons why they won."
But the Bluebirds saw two individuals and nearly a third one make it to state. The top seven individuals not on the region champion team go to state.
Junior Justin Gabbard shot a 74 to make state finishing third in the tournament and Luke Muller shot a 75 to take fifth. Freshman Joel Craft shot a 79 to tie for the final individual spot in the region but lost a playoff.
Eighth grader Ryan Toole and seventh grader Hank Shick also participated for the Bluebirds. Richey said he told them the day was about gaining experience and to do the best they could since it was their first time in a region tournament.
Highlands had gone to the state tournament the last two years. Gabbard and Muller were on those teams and Craft helped the Bluebirds to an eighth-place finish at state last year. Gabbard finished tied for 20th in the state tournament in 2017.
"I am very excited to be returning to the state tournament because (Tuesday) was a grind and the whole time," Muller said. "Eagle Creek was playing the hardest I have ever seen it played so to qualify this year, it felt extra special."
The state tournament is Oct. 10. It again takes place at the Bowling Green Country Club.
Highlands 6, South Dearborn (Indiana) 0:
The Bluebirds moved to 12-2-5 winning the final home game of the regular season.
Sophomore forward Chloe Bramble had a hat trick of three goals and an assist for seven points to lead the way. Bramble has a team-high 12 goals and six assists for a team-high 30 points this season.
"We just really worked hard as a team and none of us every gave up on the ball," Bramble said. "We fed in some beautiful crosses. We always went far post to finish them."
Highlands had 32 shots with 15 on goal to six shots for South Dearborn with five on goal. Highlands goalkeeper Jasmine Rehberger had five saves.
Sophomore Faith Broering had a goal and two assists for four points with senior sister Maria Broering adding one goal and one assist for three points. Junior Kenzie Nehus had the other goal and sophomore Macy Hedenberg had two assists.
"We got South Dearborn on the schedule," said Alex Dean, Highlands Head Coach. "Their coach emailed me because they needed a turf game. They wanted to make a trip here before their postseason. They play a pretty good schedule in Indiana. But (Tuesday), we came out firing. We controlled most of the game. In the second half, we just exploded the first 10-15 minutes, put four goals in and just made sure we closed it out with a shutout. It was nice seeing that, especially before Saturday."
Highlands travels to Sacred Heart on Saturday in a rematch of last year's state championship. Game time is 3 p.m.
Highlands 3, Simon Kenton 1:
The Bluebirds (16-2 overall) came into this one remembering how the Lady Pioneers (14-6) beat them in Independence last year.
Highlands rebounded from another slow start to win the first one, 25-16 then took the second one, 25-21. The Lady Pioneers won the third set, 25-20 before Highlands closed out the match with a 25-9 win in the fourth set. The Bluebirds have lost just 10 sets all season.
"We had to kind of figure some things out in the first set, just kind of some rhythm things," said Katelyn Sallee, Highlands Head Coach. "We got in sync and took care of business pretty quickly and clearly in the first and second set. The third set is where Simon Kenton actually starting figuring some things out, started finding some shots that were working. We started adjusting, but it was a little late in that set. In the fourth set, we came out strong. We changed some things."
Those changes in the fourth set included letting junior Laura Winkler set some and move sophomore middle blocker CC Shick to the outside. Winkler finished with nine kills, two assists and three digs. Shick had 14 kills, two digs and three assisted blocks.
Highlands hit .240 as a team connecting for 57 kills on 171 attempts with 16 errors. The Bluebirds also had 57 assists, 101 digs, one solo block, eight assisted blocks, four aces, six serving errors, nine receiving errors, three blocking errors and eight general ball-hitting errors.
Senior middle blocker Ava Hockney had 16 kills and one assisted block. Senior outside hitter Casey Dunn had 14 kills and 28 digs and senior setter Audrey Graves had 52 assists, 12 digs and two assisted blocks. Sophomore Lauren Buemi had four kills, one solo and two assisted blocks.
The defensive specialists again did their thing for the Bluebirds. Senior Rylee Kirschenbaum had 26 digs and Brooke Biltz had 13 with sophomore Madison Clore recording 10 to go with two aces.
"I think the most special thing about the team is our bond, which really helps us on and off the court," Winkler said. "This year's seniors have been an amazing group and have really welcomed all of the underclassmen."
Highlands plays at Dayton on Wednesday. Game time is 6 p.m.
Loveland (Ohio) 3, Highlands 2:
The Bluebirds (10-5-4 overall) battled the Tigers despite ultimately being down two because of two red cards.
The Tigers had 18 shots with seven on goal to 14 shots with four on goal for the Highlands. Highlands senior goalkeeper Nick Fischer had four saves.
Junior Hank Cook and sophomore Cole Lorenzen had goals for the Bluebirds. Senior Porter Hedenberg and junior Brayden Gillman had assists.
Highlands plays host to Madeira (Ohio) on Thursday at Tower Park. Game time is 7 p.m.