|Highlands Volleyball Goes 2-0 in Lexington|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands senior Madison Clore (left) and juniors Kenzi Vennefron (11) and Emma Daly (9) get in position in a recent game.|
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For the first time since 2018, the Highlands Bluebirds have started the season 2-0.
It last happened in 2018 and 2017. Those teams lost to Scott County in the third game. The 2018 team finished 10-3 losing to Covington Catholic in both the regular season and in the region title game.
The Bluebirds won their last of 23 state championships in 2014. That team started the season 6-0. The last time Highlands finished undefeated came in a 15-0 run in 2011.
The Highlands 3-4 defense knows it has a number of ways to improve going forward after giving up 596 yards against Simon Kenton. But the Bluebirds did record two turnovers moving to a plus-four in the takeaway/giveaway margin.
Highlands Head Coach Bob Sphire said the Bluebirds were behind in the weight room after the scrimmage against Louisville Male. The team had one practice day in pads last week because of the heat.
"That's not an excuse," Sphire said. "We have to find a way to get better at tackling. But (Simon Kenton) is really, really good."
The Highlands offense put up 600 yards of total offense against Simon Kenton including 196 on the ground. Highlands junior quarterback Charlie Noon is known for his scrambling abilities.
Highlands Offensive Coordinator Hayden Sphire said it is a matter of getting in the weight room and becoming more physical up front. Hayden Sphire credited junior Dawson Hosea for making hard, physical runs and taking care of the ball. The team will have a nice tandem in the backfield when senior Griffin Richter returns in a few weeks.
"We have a lot of improvement to do in the running game," Hayden Sphire said. "But I think we've gotten better."
Series Against Simon Kenton:
Highlands moved to 28-5 all-time against Simon Kenton. The Bluebirds have won three of the last four meetings since the teams began playing each other on a regular basis again in 2015.
The two did not play each other from 1999 through 2014. The Bluebirds and Pioneers played in the same district in the 1990s.
Scouting Campbell County:
Highlands will play the Camels on Friday at 7 p.m. in Fort Thomas for the first home game of the season. Campbell County (1-1) opened the season with a 21-0 blanking of Newport Central Catholic. But the Woodford County Yellow Jackets came to Alexandria on Friday and handed the Camels a 34-13 loss.
Woodford County put up 413 yards offensively in the win with 256 on the ground and 157 through the air. The Camels passed for just 37 yards in the loss.
Class 5A, District 5 Results:
The district finished 4-1 in non-district action Friday. Cooper also moved to 2-0 with a 19-10 win in Union over Dixie Heights.
Covington Catholic and Boone County are 1-1 with their first wins of the season. CovCath handled Class 3A power Belfry, 42-13 in the Pike County Bowl and Boone County beat Scott, 27-7.
The Conner Cougars fell to 1-1 with a 40-7 road loss at Ryle.
Highlands Volleyball in Bluegrass Invitational Volleyball Tournament:
The Bluebirds moved to 6-1 with two wins in the Bluegrass Invitational Volleyball Tournament.
Highlands beat Henry Clay, 2-0 (25-15, 25-17) before handling Logan County from the 4th Region located to the west of Bowling Green, 2-1 (25-22, 24-26, 15-10). Henry Clay won the 11th Region last year advancing to the state semifinals before losing to eventual state runner-up Louisville Mercy.
"We didn't know who we were going to come out and see," said Katelyn Sallee, Highlands Head Coach. "Obviously, usually they're not teams we play often. We took care of business very quick against Henry Clay. I was very pleased with that. Logan (County) was very tough. They ran a very fast offense and had some very talented hitters. But we handled that defensively, figured out what we needed to do and were able to execute. It was great. We're excited."
Highlands had 26 assists and kills, seven aces, three solo blocks and 23 digs against Henry Clay. Senior CC Shick led the Bluebirds with six kills. Senior Nicole Ossege had five kills with senior Lauren Buemi recording five kills to go with two blocks and two aces. Senior Avery Cavacini had four kills and a block.
"I think we had to dig deep and make sure we took care of business quickly and efficiently," Ossege said. "We had to come together as a team and push each other to play our best."
Highlands used both setters in the win. Junior Kenzi Vennefron had 13 assists and seven kills. Senior Madison Opitz had 12 assists. Senior Honor Valentine had five digs. Opitz and senior Sophia Sarakatsannis had two aces each. Sarakatsannis also had two kills and two digs.
Highlands had 26 kills and assists, five aces, four assisted blocks and 12 digs. Shick had eight kills and a block to lead the Bluebirds and Ossege had six. Sarakatsannis had five kills, two aces and four digs with Buemi contributing four kills, one block and one dig. Vennefron led Highlands with 15 assists.
Highlands played three games Saturday back in Lexington.
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