The Bulldogs spikers checked off another item on their bucket list for this season on Thursday night.
Highland, using their experience, size, and versatility took down Jerseyville 25-17 and 25-14 to win the Class 3A Regional championship at Jerseyville High School.
“We played well, there are things that we can still work on and improve on but overall thought it was a really good team effort and I was happy with how they went out there and performed,” Highland coach Katelyn Hagarty said.
It was the first regional title for the Bulldogs in seven seasons and the second big goal achieved by the club this fall. Highland (33-2) defeated Waterloo (25-16, 23-25, 25-13) to win the Mississippi Valley Conference title on Oct. 16.
Highland advanced on to a Class 3A sectional semifinal on Monday at 6:30 p.m. against Lincoln winner Taylorville at Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin. The match was completed after News Leader press deadline for this week.
“It’s been a goal of theirs all season long to win a regional championship, and they have done a real good job of accomplishing them,”Hagarty said. “Winning a regional was something that all my seniors had on their list as something they wanted to accomplish because it hasn’t been done since 2011, so I’m really proud and happy for them.”
In the regional title match, sophomore outside hitter Bella LaPorta was strong with timely kills near the net. “I feel like Bella LaPorta did a really good job on the outside and she had some really good swings,” Hagarty said.
Senior Libero Emmy Nyquist provided strong back end defense during the night as well. “Emmy Nyquist, her defense is just phenomenal,” Hagarty said.
“The way that she can read what’s happening the other court and on the other side court’s hitters. She does a great job of moving her feet and getting pass returned where it needs to go.”
Senior outside hitters Claire Dierks and Jennessa Kimmle also came through with big scoring kills and timely defense for the Bulldogs.
A solid balance of hitters and defense has made the Bulldogs a tough to stop as Highland (33-2) has not lost since Oct. 13 in the O’Fallon Tournament and has won five straight matches since then.
“We have a number of hitters and our setter does a really good job of mixing it up and you never know from night to night who’s stepping up and having a really good game,” Hagarty said. “We have a solid defense and we work really well together and we can have a balanced attack and that’s great.
A strong performance in the regional semifinal round moved Highland into the regional title match as Highland blasted Civic Memorial 25-8 and 25-11 to win the regional semifinal Tuesday night...
Diercks and LaPorta were active and dominant around the net with 6 kills each.
Junior setter Meghan Vidmar had an outstanding night running the offense with 4 serving aces and 17 assists.
Taylorville knocked Hghland out last year in the regional championship round, so the Bulldogs do have a bit of familiarity with the Tornadoes.
“We played them last year in the regional championship and we lost,” Hagarty said. “I know that some returners from last year as well and their middle (middle blocker) is really strong and their libero is pretty solid, so we’re going to do some work at practice to prepsre for them that we come prepared and play as a team there’s no one we can’t beat.”