The Highland volleyball Lady Bulldogs bounced back from a sluggish first game to show why they have owned the conference this season as they hammered out a 21-25, 25-17, 25-19 victory over visiting Waterloo on Tuesday, Oct. 17.
Prior to the match, Highland (24-8-1) had already clinched at least a share of its first Mississippi Valley Conference championship in six years. However, if the Lady Bulldogs would have lost to Waterloo and then lost to Mascoutah on Thursday, Highland would have to settle for a share.
But HHS showed over the final two games why its carries a undefeated MVC record of 9-0 in its regular-season finale with the Indians. Now, the only thing left is for Highland to try to run the table in the league with a perfect 10-0 ledger.
“We didn’t want to settle for sharing it with Mascoutah, we wanted to go out there and finish it and show that we’re No. 1 and they’re No. 2,” said Highland first-year coach Katelyn Hagarty, who led the team to its first MVC crown since her assistant coach Kristen Torre was a senior in the fall of 2011. “I am just really proud of the girls and I feel like they are working hard. If I can get them to be really confident in themselves from start to finish, I think we are almost unstoppable.
“...I an proud today that they were able to come back after losing the first game. I feel it says a lot about them and they are not ready to give up and they want it.”
Junior outside hitter Jennessa Kimmle and junior libero Emmy Nyquist shared match-high honors with 27 digs apiece. Kimmle also tied junior outside hitter Megan Ramsey for team-best honors in kills with eight. Ramsey also added 15 digs, one solo block and two block assists.
Waterloo’s Hannah Cope had a match-high nine kills.
Also for Highland, sophomore setter Megan Vidmar dished out a match-best 30 assists and had 11 digs, junior middle hitter Claire Diercks produced seven kills and two block assists, sophomore middle hitter Sydney Coker added four kills, and junior right-side hitter Abby Beyer served up match highs in serves (22) and aces (three).
Kimmle and Nyquist also each added two aces.
“It feels really good to win the conference,” Kimmle said. “We pushed really hard to do it this year and this definitely rewards us for all of our hard work. It’s really good feeling. We wanted it so bad. After losing the first game, we knew we were not going to lose, we can’t let this happen.”
Nyquist said her team has worked hard to win conference and beat Waterloo all three times this season, with all three matches going the full distance of three games.
“It feels great to win the conference, and it shows off how hard we work in practice and in games,” Nyquist said. “I think for us to push through and win tonight is awesome because it shows a lot about who we are.”
Right-side hitter Megan Sands is the Highland’s only starting senior and one of just two on the entire roster.
“We definitely have this fire in us where we want it, we want it, we want it and we’re going to go out and get it,” said Sands, who logged three kills and 10 digs. “We never lose confidence and keeping our confidence up is a big thing for us this year. I think we’re working really well as a team and I am really proud of what we have done and what we have accomplished. I think our confidence has gone up from where we started the season.”
Highland opens the postseason as the third seed in the IHSA Class 3A Effingham Sectional and the Lady Bulldogs will compete in the Jacksonville Regional. Highland will first take on No. 8 Effigham at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 24. The championship match at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 26 would most likely feature second-seeded Taylorville.