Story Matters

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Highlands Volleyball Soundly Advances in 36th District Tournament

Highlands Faces Newport Central Catholic for District Championship

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands senior Sophia Sarakatsannis (10) prepares to bump the ball in a recent game.

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The Highlands Bluebirds volleyball team (27-7 overall) mainly had to hit the serving targets to soundly advance to a 10th consecutive district championship game.

Host Highlands landed 23 aces in a sound 3-0 (25-6, 25-12, 25-11) win over the Bellevue Tigers on Tuesday in the 36th District semifinals. The Bluebirds earned a dominant top seed in the tournament and were the only team not to play on the first of three days Monday.

"I was proud of them," said Katelyn Sallee, Highlands Head Coach. "We were excited to get out there. Bellevue had a great game (Monday) in a hard-fought victory against Dayton. I'm just really glad we came out and took care of business against them."

Highlands will face Newport Central Catholic (13-22) for the district championship for the 10th straight season on Wednesday at 7 p.m. back at Russell Bridges Gym. The Bluebirds are seeking their fifth straight district crown and sixth in the last 10 years.

Seniors Madison Clore and Sophia Sarakatsannis led Highlands with seven aces each. Sarakatsannis added five kills. Senior Honor Valentine had four. Senior Josie Steppe and junior Kenzie Vennefron had two each.

The Bluebirds also had 31 kills and assists, one solo block by senior CC Shick and 22 digs. Clore had seven digs and Steppe had five. Senior Lauren Buemi had seven kills and Shick had six. Seniors Avery Cavacini and Nicole Ossege had five and four kills respectively.

Vennefron had 16 assists. Senior setter Madison Opitz added 13.

Some of the younger players saw action in the game. That included sophomore Rachel Ossege, who is cousins with Nicole Ossege.

"(The seniors) talk a lot to each other. They get along really well," Rachel Ossege said. "They all work really well as a team. They have fun while they're doing it."

The last time Highlands did not advance to the district title game came in 2011 in the program's last year in the old 37th District and 10th Region. The Bluebirds lost to Newport Central Catholic in the old blind draw days in the 37th semifinals. Highlands won the 36th District crown in 2012 in the first year in the current format.

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