|Bluebirds Face Dixie Heights on Thursday|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands senior Lauren Buemi gets in position during a recent match.|
The Highlands Bluebirds volleyball team may have a huge upcoming 9th Region game.
But the next game on the schedule listed a visit from the Walton-Verona Bearcats from the 8th Region. Highlands (9-2 overall) still took care of the Bearcats by a minimum 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 25-19) win.
"I think a lot of high school teams have a tendency to overlook opponents. That's not a good thing to get into," said Katelyn Sallee, Highlands Head Coach. "We do have to keep our eyes on what is in front of us. I think we were able to reset and do that. The Walton program as a whole has really grown. They have some really tough athletes. There were a couple sections where we were like, 'Okay. Get your hands back on the wheel. Let's steer this thing home.' You can't really mess around with many teams in our area."
Sallee liked how all 16 players on the bench received action. This includes sophomore defensive specialist Annie Ellison and junior middle blocker Carly Cramer.
"I say in my head, 'Don't get nervous. You can do it and I usually end up doing fine," Ellison said. "For club, I've played at that (higher-speed varsity) level so I'm used to it. For varsity, you have to be more prepared and step it up instead of just taking it slow on (junior varsity)."
Highlands had 37 kills and assists, 12 aces, three solo blocks and 53 digs. Senior middle blocker/right side hitter CC Shick again led the Bluebirds with 15 kills, one solo block and seven digs. Senior outside/right side hitter Sophia Sarakatsannis had three aces, four kills, one assist and a team-high 12 digs. Senior middle blocker Avery Cavacini had seven kills, one solo block and one dig. Senior middle blocker/right side hitter Lauren Buemi had seven kills, one solo block and one dig.
Senior setter Madison Opitz had most of the saves with 31 to go with four digs, one kill and one ace. Senior Honor Valentine had 11 digs and five aces with senior defensive specialist Madison Clore recording eight digs, two assists and two aces.
Dixie Heights (2-1) comes to Fort Thomas for a 7:30 p.m. game. Highlands is 1-2 against 9th Region opponents with both losses coming against teams from the 33rd District.
The two have a recent history in postseason having met in the 9th Region quarterfinals three years in a row between 2017 and 2019. Highlands won two of those three meetings. The two did not play each other last year during a Coronavirus 2019-shortened season.
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