Highland News Leader

Balance and chemistry get Highland spikers off to a fast start

Bulldogs coach Katelyn Hagarty discusses positioning and play with the team during a timeout in the Bulldogs home match with Civici Memorial on Tuesday, Sept. 11.
Bulldogs coach Katelyn Hagarty discusses positioning and play with the team during a timeout in the Bulldogs home match with Civici Memorial on Tuesday, Sept. 11.

There have been many good nights for the Highland Bulldogs volleyball team so far this fall.

Highland has been spiking and serving its way to wins in the first three weeks of the season and has the look of a team that is determined to have a big season on the court.

The Bulldogs headed into last Thursday’s road match at Triad with a 9-1 mark.

“We’ve have been pressing really hard and we are all just really in it for the team and we have just all come together and we’re all really close, so it’s working in our way right now,” Bulldogs senior middle hitter Claire Diercks said.

Highland began the season with a eight-game winning streak that included winning the 40th Annual Southern Illinois Preview Tournament in Carbondale with wins over Salem, Marion, Centralia, Charleston, and defending champ Carbondale in early September.

Since then, the Bulldogs have won two of their last three matches.

Good chemistry has helped the Bulldogs click in every phase of the game to date.

“I feel like we have really been jelling together out there on the court,” Coach Katelyn Hagarty said. “Our chemistry feels good to where we are able to trust one another and our offense with the number of hitters we have number of hitters that can be a threat on the front row. Our setters do a good job servicing the ball across the net to where it’s hard for other teams to read where are going be setting.”

Diercks, sophomore outside hitter Bella LaPorta, and senior outside hitters Sydney Coker and Jennessa Kimmle give the Bulldogs plenty of fire power at the net.

“From game to game I don’t know who’s going to step up and have those kills and that’s exciting as a coach to see them go out there and compete day in and day out,” Hagarty said.

Junior setter Megan Vidmar has been helping to run the offense along with senior libero Emily Nyquist.

Nyquist, Kimmle, and LaPorta have come up big on the defensive end leading the club in digs. Nyquist is averaging 5.75 digs per game while Kimmle and LaPorta averaging 3.25 per game.

“It’s hard to find two players like [Nyquist and Kimmle] that have like that chemistry that they are such good friends and they just know who is going to go after what ball [on the court],” Hagarty said.

The Bulldogs lone loss came against Collinsville in a three-set defeat on Monday at home. They rebounded with a 25-13, 25-17, two-set home victory on Tuesday over Civic Memorial.

“I think we came into the Collinsville game thinking a little too much and it didn’t go our way,” Diercks said. “It’s tough to get out of that mindset I think and sometimes we get down but we just have to pull each other out of it.”

Diercks and the other four seniors on the Bulldogs roster have been enjoying the regular season success but they have a bigger goal in mind for the end of the season.

“We hope to go farther,” Diercks said. “We hope to get out of the first section of regionals and hopefully make it to state,” Diercks said. “That’s our biggest goal because in past regionals we’ve never done that.”