|Highlands Soccer, Volleyball Teams Victorious|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham. Highlands sophomore forward Ava Meyer (13) and sophomore forward Lindsay Stein get (17) get in position in the win at Campbell County on Friday.|
The rivalry week for the Highlands Bluebirds girls soccer team (5-1 overall) concluded with a nice road win.
Highlands ventured south to take on the county rival Campbell County Camels (7-3-1). The Bluebirds built a 5-1 lead and did not let it slip away in a 5-2 victory in a game featuring two head coaches with a common mentor early in their coaching careers. Chuck Norris mentored his son in Highlands Head Coach Chris Norris and Campbell County Head Coach Dave Morris years ago.
Highlands did better in a battle of ball-possession teams doubling the amount of shots against the Camel. The Bluebirds had 22 shots with 16 on goal to 11 shots and eight on goal for the hosts. Highlands won a lot of the 50/50 balls near midfield. Highlands midfielders such as seniors Julia Heck, Lucy New and sophomore Ava Meyer held strong there.
"It's pretty much a mentality thing just being first to the 50/50s that way we can just play it to our other teammates' feet," Heck said. "We've learned that it's really not about location. It's about who we're with and our team. We just push through no matter if it's grass or turf."
Highlands did commit eight fouls to four for Campbell County. But both teams had two corner kicks.
The Bluebirds knew they had to contain Campbell County junior forward Ruby Dunlevy. She scored two goals off two free kicks. Dunlevy has a team-high 15 goals and five assists for 35 points and has a school-record 41 career goals.
"We anticipated that it was going to be more long balls so we changed up our back four one more time because we wanted to add a bit more speed and I thought we were able to contain the long ball like that," Chris Norris said. "We kept forcing Dunlevy to the side and not letting her get into the middle. Her free kicks are fantastic. We mentioned that we can't foul anymore in the back 30. I'm glad that we shut her down for the most part in play."
Highlands did continue to play some young players in the defensive backfield because of injuries. But the likes of senior defender Jade Rehberger and freshmen Kate Fausz and Kendall Graves held their own back there.
Highlands senior goalkeeper Hailey Parks had five saves before junior goalkeeper Angelica Jackson came in late to make one. Campbell County junior goalkeeper Morgan Rawe had nine saves.
Highlands sophomore forward Laney Smith had a hand in all five goals in the victory. She scored on a corner kick and had four assists for six points. Smith has five goals and a team-high six assists on the season for a team-high 16 points. Smith and senior midfielder Faith Broering are tied for the team lead with five goals.
"We've been working on quick releases in the offensive third and allowing other players to get involved vs. always trying to rely on Faith and Laney," Chris Norris said. "They're amazing players in their own right. They're being hammered. We saw how many times Faith got hit in the middle of the field. We saw how often Laney had two players on her."
Smith found Broering for a score just four minutes, 13 seconds into the game. But after Dunlevy tied it less than a minute later, Smith found fellow sophomore forward Claire Cavacini for the score to put Highlands up 2-1 at halftime. Minutes before, Smith just missed a solid shot off the left post. Cavacini has four goals on the season.
"I think it gave us a lot of intensity and urgency to push us to want to score more and more," Cavacini said. "I think when we play (the ball) to feet, we play a whole different game and it benefits us 100 percent. I think it's a good win for us and it's going to push us to want to not get close games like (the 4-3 win at Newport Central Catholic on Wednesday) again."
The Bluebirds built the 5-1 lead in the first 20 minutes of the second half. Smith scored on a corner kick from Rehberger with 36:40 left in the game.
Senior forward Chloe Bramble scored twice with 24:24 and 20:02 left in the game. Bramble has three goals and three assists on the season for nine points.
"Chloe Bramble was finishing strong," Chris Norris said. "We can't do that without everybody getting involved. I think everybody's starting to learn their role a little bit more and they're starting to really support each other both offensively and defensively. You can see their confidence and communication growing. They have a great sense of team right now. So if we can just continue that mentality over the next month, I think we'll be a force to reckon with in October."
Dunlevy scored her second goal with 15:35 left in the game. But the Camels did not score again allowing Highlands to put in some reserves.
"It's very difficult to prepare for," Morris said of the Highlands scoring balance. "I watched them play on film and knew they had a turn, play long speed up top. It was going to be very difficult to contain them. I was hoping we'd do better. But we made a few mistakes in the back and gave up the two early goals. We had to be aggressive at midfield and contest every ball. That was our goal for the game. We had periods where we did that. As soon as we didn't do that, then they would get the ball all over the field. It made for a long day."
The Bluebirds take on East Central (Indiana) on Thursday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Highlands 2, Lexington Henry Clay 0:
The Bluebirds (7-2-1 overall) earned their first Saturday win of the season against a familiar opponent in the Blue Devils (5-5) in Lexington. This marked the third shutout of the season for Highlands.
"We like coming to Lexington for these trips," said Chad Niedert, Highlands Head Coach. "We hope that have multiple (trips to Lexington) because it's a good sign of a deep postseason run. It's a little bit different when you have these long trips in getting game ready when you get in the lull in an hour and a half-plus drive. But we came out and started well. We played really well. We've been working on various things like individual and team defending things. A lot of that translated well with what we did (Saturday)."
Highlands had 16 shots with 13 on goal to five shots on goal for Henry Clay. Junior goalkeeper Connor Mathis had three saves and sophomore Jack Wilson had two.
Highlands junior midfielder Caden Schroeder scored an olympico goal directly off a corner kick in the first half. That marked his third of the season.
"We've been pretty solid on our set pieces," Niedert said. "The wind was quite extensive. We don't normally get a lot of wind at our field (Tower Park). In the first half, we had the wind at our backs going straight toward Henry Clay's goal. We hit the right spot and got a goal from it."
The Bluebirds added a goal in the second half. Junior defender Luke Fedders threw the ball in to senior midfielder/forward Jordan Frisk. Frisk took a touch in the middle and scored for his fifth goal of the season.
Highlands last played Henry Clay in the state quarterfinals at Tower Park on Oct. 26, 2019. The Blue Devils won 2-1 (4-3 on penalty kicks) on their way to the state championship.
"We all that it was a good feeling to come back and beat them after they knocked us out of the state tournament," said Chad Gesenhues, Highlands sophomore forward/midfielder. "I think it's mostly going into headers and tackles fearless almost wanting to run through and win the ball then making a play out of it and not just hold onto it."
Highlands travels to Covington Catholic (1-4-5) on Tuesday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Highlands Places Third at September Slam:
The Bluebirds (14-3 overall) hoped to play for the September Slam championship in the afternoon. But they had to settle for third after finishing 3-1 in pool play.
Highlands took down Dixie Heights, 2-0 (25-20, 25-18) before losing 2-0 to eventual tournament champion Covington Holy Cross, 2-0 (25-18, 25-18) in pool play. The Bluebirds took out Southwestern located in south central Pulaski County by a 2-1 score (17-25, 25-19, 15-7).
"I think we would have liked to have performed better against Holy Cross. Obviously that dropped us to this match," said Katelyn Sallee, Highlands Head Coach. "We didn't have the chance to fight for first place. But for us to come off a loss and finish strong was good. I'm pleased with that."
Highlands found its groove against Southwestern in the second and third games. Seniors Avery Cavacini and CC Shick dominated the nets. Shick had 12 kills and eight digs with Cavacini recording two kills, two solo blocks, one assisted block and four digs.
"As always, every aspect of the game is super important," Cavacini said. "But being consistent up at the net and being able to read the other team is vital to help our back row play."
The Bluebirds had 30 kills and assists, three solo and two assisted blocks, three aces and 51 digs against Southwestern. Senior Sophia Sarakatsannis had three kills, one ace, one assisted block and eight digs. The Bluebirds figured out Southwestern's tapping game in the second and third games.
"We've played a lot of volleyball this past week so we were trying to squeeze it out and I think we did that well," Shick said. "We just try to focus on grit and what's ahead of us - the next game and the next point all the time."
Junior setter Kenzie Vennefron had 24 assists and sophomore setter Madison Opitz had four. Senior defensive specialist Madison Clore had 13 digs with senior Honor Valentine recording seven.
Highlands had two aces, 19 kills and assists, one solo block and 35 digs against Holy Cross. Shick had nine kills, one solo block and six digs. Vennefron had two aces, 17 assists and six digs. Sarakatsannis had two kills and 10 digs.
The Bluebirds had three aces, 30 assists and kills, three solo blocks, two assisted blocks and 13 digs against Dixie Heights. Shick had 12 kills and eight digs. Vennefrom had 24 assists, four digs and one kill. Clore had 13 digs. Senior Lauren Buemi had six kills, one ace, one solo block, three digs and one assist. Sarakatsannis had eight digs, three kills, one solo, one assisted block and an ace.
Highlands takes on Covington Holmes (4-10) on Wednesday. Game time is 6 p.m.
Football, Junior Varsity:
Highlands 36, Campbell County 0:
Highlands moved to 2-0 with another shutout win.
Sophomore quarterback Cam Bottom threw four touchdown passes. Sophomore Cam Giesler had one rushing and one receiving touchdown. Junior wide receiver Jack Hendrix and sophomore wide receivers Davis Hinegardner and Matteo Matteoli had one touchdown catch each.
Highlands plays Cincinnati McNicholas at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
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