The Highland volleyball Lady Bulldogs wanted the Mississippi Valley Conference championship all to themselves and left no chance for sharing it after scoring a 21-25, 25-17, 25-19 victory over visiting Waterloo on Oct. 17.
Two nights later in the regular-season finale, Highland completed a perfect 10-0 run through the conference with a 25-10, 22-25, 25-17 win over visiting Mascoutah.
What made it even sweeter was that the Lady Bulldogs (25-8-1) capped off their undefeated 10-0 sweep of the league against the Indians (7-3 MVC), who were finally dethroned after being the defending four-time conference champs.
“Going undefeated is awesome,” said Highland first-year coach Katelyn Hagarty, who led the program to its first MVC crown since her assistant coach, Kristen Torre, was a senior in the fall of 2011. “You always want to set the bar high when you come into a new program, but you never know what to expect and how the girls are going to respond. But I have a fantastic group, and I feel like anything I ask of them they are willing to do. I am just really proud of the girls, and I feel like they are working hard. I just need them to believe in themselves and we can go places.
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“I feel like we have done a lot this year, and I don’t think anyone expected that. That makes it that much sweeter.”
HHS beats Mascoutah
It was only fitting that on senior night against Mascoutah on Thursday, senior right-side hitter Megan Sands slammed down a kill on match point to put an exclamation point on the undefeated MVC campaign. Sands is Highland’s only starting senior and one of just two on the entire roster — along with Morgan Mesle.
“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 four kills and nine digs against the Indians. “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 junior middle hitter Claire Diercks spearheaded the win over Mascoutah with a match-high 16 kills and four block assists. She also added four digs.
Junior libero Emmy Nyquist ranked first in digs (24) and serves received (16). She also added two aces and one kill. Sophomore Megan Vidmar dished out a match-best 36 assists to go with five digs, one ace and one block assist. Junior right-side hitter Abby Beyer had a match-leading 18 serves to go with two aces.
Also producing for the Lady Bulldogs were junior outside hitter Megan Ramsey with seven kills, eight digs, three block assists and one ace; junior outside hitter Jennessa Kimmle with six kills, 12 digs and one ace; Mesle with one kill, three digs and one block assist; and sophomore middle hitter Sydney Coker with one kill and one block assist.
Highland opens the postseason as the third seed in the IHSA Class 3A Effingham Sectional. The Lady Bulldogs will compete in the Jacksonville Regional. Highland was set to take on No. 8 Effingham at on Tuesday, Oct. 24. With a win over Effingham, the Lady Bulldogs would most likely face second-seeded Taylorville in the championship match at 6 p.m. Oct. 26.
HHS defeats Waterloo
Kimmle and Nyquist shared honors with a match-topping 27 digs apiece. Kimmle also tied 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 handed 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.”