|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands volleyball head coach Katelyn Sallee (right) talks to seniors Izzy Schultz (7) and Maria Hockney (6) in a recent match. Highlands graduates seven seniors from this year's 17-19 squad.|
But after losing to Newport Central Catholic in the 36th District Tournament, Highlands knew it would have a tough draw in the 9th Region quarterfinals and drew the perennial state power Notre Dame Pandas for the third straight year. The result was the same as the Pandas won 3-0 (25-8, 25-8, 25-11). Highlands ended the season with a 17-19 record.
Notre Dame has finished state runner-up the past two years. In the history of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association state tournament, only one public school has ever played in a state championship. That came in 2011 when Greenwood lost to Louisville Assumption.
The highlight of the year for Highlands was winning their own Cake Classic. The Ladybirds beat Conner in the process after losing the first two matches to the Lady Cougars.
Highlands graduates seven seniors from the team. They are defensive specialist/setter Ellie Van Curen, outside hitter Isabella Schultz, defensive specialist Sydney Kroger, middle blocker Anna Marie Houliston, middle blocker Maria Hockney, outside hitter Malorie Hegge and libero/defensive specialist AJ Guth.
"It's a really tough senior class to lose," said Katelyn Sallee, Highlands Head Coach. "I really enjoyed them so it's a big class. It's a lot of talent leaving. But I think more than that, they've been together for a very long time and that showed. I've been honored to work with them the past two years. It will be a little foreign to me not working with them."
But Highlands has some nice talent to build around next season. That includes juniors Lauren Epperson, Emma Little and sophomore Emma Delagrange.
"We have a lot of talent coming up," Sallee said. "We have a lot of potential on our bench so I'm really anxious to see them progress over the offseason. We even have some eighth graders and freshmen that I have my eye on. I'm ready to see how they're going to progress."
Houliston did make the all-region team. She had a great season fighting back from injuries that left doubt as to whether she'd be able to play her senior season or not at one point.