Big hits, kicks and jumps
The roster will look different this fall with the likes of standouts Claire Diercks and Emmy Nyquist graduated and now playing college volleyball.
But the Highland Lady Bulldogs volleyball team will not change or lower expectations in 2019.
Highland, which went 33-3 last season and made a Class 3A sectional semifinal appearance, has their sights set on another strong year.
“I feel like now that they (our younger players) have had a taste of it, they want it and they know what it takes to get there. And whenever we are struggling at practice or in a drill they can always reflect back to that experience,” Highland coach Katelyn Hagarty said.
Junior outside hitter Bella LaPorta, senior setter Megan Vidmar, and senior middle blocker Sidney Coker will comprise the team’s core.
HHS will look to take advantage of the front-line power and hitting skills of LaPorta, Liv Wilke, junior right-side hitter Tayor Kesner, Ann Marie Beckemeyer, and Reagan Krask. They will provide versatility and control at the net as the group has a height edge averaging 6-feet tall upfront.
“I feel like we have a lot of weapons at the net, and we have a lot of offense that we can provide,” Hagarty said. “Megan does a great job setting where it needs to be set and mixing it up to where I think it would be hard to defend (us) at the net.”
LaPorta, who was second in kills with 228 last year, is expected to be Highland’s go-to scorer.
“Bella obviously on the outside, she is just getting more and more consistent and becoming a very dominant all-around player for us on the front row and also the back row,” Hagarty said. “She’s really stepped up and become a leader. She’s very vocal and she knows what it takes to get out there and compete.”
Beckemeyer and Coker will handle the middle of the court, while Senior Tessa Korte, a defensive specialist last year, will step into the libero role.
Vidmar, meanwhile, will run the offense from her setter spot, and her experience should serve the Lady Bulldogs well.
“Megan Vidmar, she’s smart and this is her third year starting varsity for me, so she knows what it takes,” Hagarty said. “She’s not scared to be vocal out there and say you need to pass to be able to get the ball up to your hitters. She and Bella are going to be my captains.”
Developing slide back end defense is one area Hagarty noted will be a work in progress this fall.
“Defensively, we’re working to get to where we have in the past,” Hagarty said. “I know we’re going to be fine because we have the offense to support that and if we are going to struggle it’s being more consistent on our passes (from the back to the front) so that we have all our options at the net instead of just one or two.”
Hagarty is pleased with the team’s showing thus far.
“We’re already growing and getting used to playing next to one another, which is good for building that chemistry,” she said.
HHS starts the season at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29, at Collinsville.