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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Highlands Takes Care of Bellevue in 36th Volleyball Semifinals

Highlands JV Volleyball Team Wins Cupcake Classic

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands sophomore CC Shick (middle) gets in position after senior defensive specialist Rylee Kirschenbaum (red) digs up the ball while Laura Winkler (7) and Casey Dunn (left) watch.
The Highlands Bluebirds volleyball team (27-7 overall) quickly took care of the host Bellevue Tigers (14-13) in the 36th District semifinals on Monday.

Highlands rolled to a 3-0 win by 25-6, 25-14, 25-3 scores. The Bluebirds have not lost a set to any district opponents this year. The Bluebirds play Newport Central Catholic for the tournament championship on Tuesday at 7 p.m. back at Bellevue.

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"Our whole story has been we know what our goals are," said Katelyn Sallee, Highlands Head Coach. "We're going to focus on them. Regardless of who our opponent is, we have a level that we want to rise to. That's our job. We're going to try to do the same thing (Tuesday)."

The Bluebirds landed 27 kills on 50 attempts and just five errors for an impressive .440 hitting percentage. Senior Ava Hockney led the way with 10 kills.

"We're really fighting for our season at this point," Hockney said. "We never know when our season could be over. We're really just playing for each other so we can have a longer season and play with our best friends."

Highlands also had 27 assists, 20 aces, 16 digs and a combined block by sophomore CC Shick and junior Laura Winkler. The teams had eight service errors, one pass receiving error, no blockine errors and just one ball-hitting error. Senior defensive specialist Rylee Kirschenbaum had a team-high four digs and seven aces with senior setter Audrey Graves recording 26 assists.

Highlands will be going for a third consecutive district championship. The Bluebirds have won 17 in a row against district opponents.

The Highlands junior varsity and freshman teams concluded the season in the Cupcake Classic at home over the weekend. The junior varsity went 4-0 winning the tournament.

The junior varsity beat Conner and Bishop Brossart to make the Gold bracket. The Bluebirds then beat Scott then Simon Kenton to win the tournament. They'd lost to Simon Kenton, 17-15 in the third set in the tournament last year.

The Bluebirds had three players play on junior varsity and dress for varsity. They are junior Maria Little and sophomores Nicole Ossege and Sophia Sarakatsannis.

"I think that's really good because we worked hard. We have a good future," Little said. "Next year is going to be a really good year. It gives you motivation to win. You continue to push yourself throughout the year."

The Highlands junior varsity team lost just six times this year. Two came in the Ryle Tournament and the other four losses were to Simon Kenton, St. Henry, Notre Dame and Kings.

"I think it's important to focus on the skills that get them ready for varsity with a faster-paced offense because that's what Katlelyn's going to expect," said Molly Maxwell, Highlands JV Head Coach. "I think that's going to make them successful on varsity next year if they move up."

Maxwell credited sophomore Honor Valentine for stepping into the Libero role this year. She said the team really improved throughout the season.

"We really had to change our offense around. We were crushing balls by the end of the season," Maxwell said. "It was exciting to see how much they grew running a faster-paced offense. My middles really grow running 31s, quicks and slides so did my back row. It was a neat change to see."

A number of junior varsity and freshman players came to the tournament Monday. The Highlands freshman team includes two players in Kennedy Baioni and Carly Cramer, who made impacts for the Highlands varsity softball team last spring.

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