The Highland volleyball Bulldogs did not let the bitter taste of its first loss last long. Just five days after having their 16-match winning streak snapped by Waterloo on their home court, Highland returned to its winning ways by toppling three-time defending conference champion Mascoutah in a three-set thriller, 25-19, 11-25, 25-22 Tuesday night at HHS.
Along with getting back on the winning track and back in the mix of the chase for the Mississippi Valley Conference championship, the Bulldogs handed Mascoutah its first conference loss since dropping a three-set match to Triad on Oct. 3, 2013. The Indians went 8-2 to win the league in 2013 and followed that up by sweeping the MVC the past two seasons.
On Thursday, Highland went on to battle back after dropping the first set at Civic Memorial to beat the Eagles by scores of 23-25, 25-15 and 25-17. HHS (18-1 overall, 5-1 MVC) is locked in a three-way tie atop the league standings with Mascoutah (18-6, 5-1) and Waterloo (14-5, 5-1).
HHS defeats Mascoutah
Highland senior middle hitter Alex LaPorta pounded out four of her eight kills — which shared the match-high honors with Mascoutah’s Tieghan Morio — to help Highland overcome five -point deficits in the third set.
“Oh wow, it feels great,” Highland senior middle hitter Alex LaPorta said of ending Mascoutah’s three-year conference winning streak. “The conference is going to be a battle this year and we’re going to have to focus and play good in all the games we have left. I think the difference was that this game we were playing to win and against Waterloo (Sept. 22) we were scared and we were playing not to lose, and it paid off tonight for us.”
She was never bigger than down the stretch of the rubber game. With the score deadlocked at 21 all, she hammered down a kill to put the Bulldogs on top. Then after Mascoutah briefly retied it, LaPorta answered with another resounding kill to give her squad the lead it would not relinquish at 23-22.
Senior southpaw outside hitter Sarah Beth Wiegman then blasted down a kill to bring Highland to match point, and an Indians hitting error gave the Bulldogs the sweet taste of victory over their recent nemesis.
“I knew we could come back,” said Highland senior setter Megan Frey, who dished out a team-high 15 assists. “We’ve been down worse and I knew we could come back with a good run.”
The third game was a huge recovery for Highland. After looking good in taking the first game 25-19, the Bulldogs fell on hard times in the second set. The Indians raced out to leads of 6-0, 9-1 and 17-3 and never looking back en route to posting a dominant 14-point win.
“I think we just kind of doubted ourselves in the second game, but then we were able to recompose and focus and we came back,” LaPorta said. “We got our confidence back and had the confidence and belief in ourselves and I think it paid off.
Wiegman and LaPorta, two mainstays who never leave the court, were actually rotated out in the second game and third games. They were replaced on the court by sophomore Jennessa Kimmle and junior Addison Rinderer, but the senior duo returned in plenty of time in the third set to help lead their team to triumph.
“We had some bench players who stepped up and were able to fill our spots whenever we were struggling,” LaPorta said. “We have a lot of depth on this team and we haven’t needed to show that yet. I think that it paid off tonight and it was really great for Jennessa and Addy to step up for us.”
In addition to Morio’s eight kills to share tops in the match with LaPorta, setter Kamrynn Voypick handed out a match-best 23 assists.
Senior outside hitter Madison Wellen, senior right-side hitter Hayley Taylor and sophomore middle hitter Claire Diercks all banged out five kills apiece.
Wellen also logged a team-best 13 digs to go along with a team-high 10 service points and three aces, while freshman libero Emmy Nyquist added 12 digs and three service points, and senior setter Sarah Frank had nine assists and four service points.
In addition for the Bulldogs, Wiegman had eight digs, three service points, two aces and two blocks; LaPorta had six digs, two blocks and one ace; Frey had five digs, three service points and one ace; Kimmle had three kills and four digs; and senior right-side hitter Amanda Korsmeyer had three kills and two blocks.
HHS beats Civic Memorial
In beating the Eagles for the third time this season, Highland piled up 40 kills, 14 total blocks and nine aces.
LaPorta and Wiegman both hit double digits in kills. LaPorta smashed down a match-topping 14 kills to go along with 11 digs, four total blocks and one ace, while Wiegman recorded 10 kills to go with 11 digs, 10 service points and three aces.
Also stepping up big for the Bulldogs were Wellen with match-high 22 digs to go with six kills, four total blocks, six service points, one ace and one assist, and Frey with 23 assists, nine digs, 17 service points and three aces and
Also producing numbers for Highland were Nyquist with 12 digs; Diercks with five kills, five digs and two total blocks; Frank with seven assists, three digs, five service points and one ace; Taylor with two kills, two blocks and one dig; Korsmeyer with two kills and two blocks.