The Highland High School volleyball team made its first appearance in the 38th annual Southern Illinois Preview Tournament at Carbondale Community High School on Saturday a victorious one while also keeping its winning streak alive to start the season.
The Lady Bulldogs went 5-0 to capture the championship of the one-day 12-team tournament and raise their perfect season record to 7-0.
“We played really well today,” Highland senior outside hitter Madison Wellen said after the tourney. “It was our first time being invited to the tournament and I think we proved today that we are capable of playing against any level of competition. We’re clicking well and everyone is working together. This is just the beginning of the season and it’s going to be a great one if we can keep playing like we did today.”
LaPorta, Nyquist named to all-tournament team
Also for Highland, senior middle hitter Alex LaPorta and sophomore libero Emmy Nyquist were named to the all-tournament team. The duo represented one-third of the team’s total six members. In the team’s five tourney matches, LaPorta led the Bulldogs with 44 kills, 88 digs, 11 total blocks and nine service aces, while Nyquist contributed 52 digs and three aces.
Highland opened the tourney by toppling the defending champions, Jackson, Mo.25-24, 25-22. That was followed up by victories over Herrin (25-15, 25-21) and Anna-Jonesboro (25-23, 25-8) before the Bulldogs had their toughest match of the day.
Highland had to battle back after dropping the opening set 17-25 to Waterloo, but HHS was able to do so after taking the final two games by scores of 25-15 and 15-12.
Finally, the Bulldogs capped off their long, successful day by sweeping Massac County in straight sets, 25-22 and 25-12.
LaPorta’s best two matches came against Massac County in the title bout and Waterloo in the semifinal. Against Massac County, LaPorta racked up a team tournament-high13 kills to go along with 17 digs and two blocks. Against Waterloo, the senior chalked up 12 kills, 18 digs, five total blocks and one ace. LaPorta also recorded a team tourney-high 20 digs against Jackson, Mo.
LaPorta ranks first on the Bulldogs in all of the following categories: kills (47), digs (10), total blocks (13) and aces (10).
Highland had several other noteworthy performances throughout the tournament: Wellen with 22 kills, 60 digs, a team-best 39 service points and five aces; senior outside hitter Sarah Beth Wiegman with 26 kills and 55 digs; senior setter Megan Frey with 54 setting assists and 30 digs; senior setter Sarah Frank with 49 setting assists; sophomore middle hitter Claire Diercks with 21 kills and five blocks; senior right-side hitter Amanda Korsmeyer with 14 kills and three blocks; and senior right-side hitter Hayley Taylor with 12 kills and five blocks.
HHS beats Granite City
Two days before the tournament, Highland swept the host Granite City Warriors in straight sets, 25-6, 26-24.
Wiegman paced the Bulldogs in kills (five), service points (12) and aces (four) while also chipping in nine digs.
LaPorta ranked first in digs with 14 while she also added two kills.
Also registering numbers for Highland were: Wellen with two kills and nine digs; Frank with eight setting assists, a team-high seven service points and one ace; Frey with five service points, three aces, four setting assists and three digs; Diercks with three kills; Taylor with three kills; Korsmeyer with two kills; and Nyquist with four digs.
Highland will host its next three matches, beginning with its home opener on Thursday against Breese Central. That will be followed by home dates in as many days with Collinsville on Monday and Civic Memorial on Tuesday.