Story Matters

Story Matters

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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Tuesday Highlands Round-Up: Boys Soccer Wins Region Road Game

Volleyball Falls in Season Opener

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands senior setter Madison Opitz gets in position during the game against Conner on Tuesday.

The Highlands Bluebirds boys soccer team (2-1 overall) ventured on the road for the first time this season and came away with a 2-1 9th Region victory over the St. Henry Crusaders (1-2).

"I think we played with a lot of passion and were pretty energetic," said Chad Niedert, Highlands Head Coach. "We've been playing more physical. We defended pretty well. This is a game where we were lucky to come away with a 2-1 win. But we had enough chances to make it a four or five-goal game on our own. We have things to work on for sure."

Senior forward/midfielder Jordan Frisk led Highlands with three points scoring one goal and recording one assist. That marked the first goal and assist of the season for Frisk.

Junior midfielder Caden Schroeder scored the other goal for the Bluebirds and junior midfielder Peyton Helminiak had the other assist. Helminiak has two assists on the year and marked the first goal of the year for Schroeder.

Highlands had 18 shots with three on goal to seven shots with six on goal. Sophomore goalkeeper Jack Wilson had four saves and junior goalkeeper Connor Mathis had two for the Bluebirds.

Highlands had to adjust to playing on the grass field at St. Henry. Tower Park has been a turf field since 2012.

"We emphasized to the guys the need to overhit every ball," Niedert said. "Every 10-yard pass needed to be processed like a 15-yard pass. We just had to make sure we didn't give up on any ball. Some of these balls that we're used to going out on our field end up staying in-bounds."

The Bluebirds are still figuring some things out in the defensive backfield. Brothers Evan and Sam Jones, a junior and senior respectively, are two players seeing a lot of time back there.

"It's been nice growing up playing soccer with (Evan) and now next to each other in the back," Sam Jones said. "We have really good players who were on varsity last year like (seniors) Nick (Robinson) and Thomas (Gray-Torsell) then kids who were on JV last year like (junior) Luke (Fedders) and my brother. Also, (senior) Sawyer Tate joined us this year, too. We were ready to play against St. Henry. Coach Niedert at halftime of the Ballard game said, 'We're too nice.' We are nice kids. We need to not play dirty, but aggressive and hard. If the opposing striker gets the ball, make sure they know there's a defender there."

Highlands faces Louisville Collegiate (1-0) in the Northern Kentucky Soccer Showcase at Ryle on Saturday. Game time is 3 p.m.

Conner 3, Highlands 1:

The Lady Cougars came to Fort Thomas in the season opener for both teams and recorded a 25-23, 20-25, 25-22, 25-22 victory snapping a nine-game losing streak against the Bluebirds. Conner last beat Highlands, 2-0 (25-18, 25-13) in the Cake Classic championship on Aug. 27, 2016.

"I feel like for us, we can play against the big swings and the big blocks and we returned them quite a bit all game," said Katelyn Sallee, Highlands Head Coach. "I think it's just about getting into a serve-receive rhythm and being able to string runs together. It was a game of runs. As soon as one team opened the door and ran, it was tough to recover from that."

Highlands had 47 kills, 11 blocks including eight solo, three blocks, 47 assists, 72 digs and six aces. Senior Sophia Sarakatsannis had 10 kills and 20 digs with senior left-hander CC Shick recording 10 kills, five blocks with four solo and seven digs. Seniors Lauren Buemi and Nicole Ossege had eight kills each. Buemi had three aces and Ossege three digs.

Highlands played senior Madison Opitz and junior Kenzi Vennefron at setter. Opitz had 44 assists, three digs, one kill and one ace with Vennefron adding two assists and two digs.

The Bluebirds also saw contributions from senior Avery Cavacini and junior Emma Daly. Cavacini had six kills, two blocks with one solo and Daly had four kills and one assisted block.

"I told the girls in the grand scheme of things, a loss is not the end of the world," Sallee said. "We need to learn from it and we need to build from it. I feel good going into our second match. Even after one match, we had a lot of feedback from the team and lot of things to throw into the next match."

Highlands travels to Campbell County (0-1) on Wednesday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

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