The Highland High School volleyball team split two Mississippi Valley Conference matches last week.
First on Tuesday, the Lady Bulldogs spiked visiting Jerseyville 25-12, 25-11. Then last Thursday at Waterloo, Highland convincingly won the first set, 25-17, before the host school bounced back to pull out the second set, 25-21, and then overwhelm HHS in the third set, 25-14.
Splitting the two matches moved Highland’s overall record to 9-3 while HHS’ mark moved to an even 2-2.
Against Jerseyville, senior middle hitter Hayley McSparin, a University of Alabama pledge and Highland’s primary weapon, was spot on with precision en route to pounding out an amazing match-high 10 kills on just 11 attacks. Her 128 kills places prior to Tuesday night’s match at Mascoutah places her among the St. Louis area leaders. She also added two blocks, two digs and three service points.
“She is dominating and she is really connecting right now,” Highland coach Tina Beyer said of McSparin, who leads HHS with 21 aces. “She’s so strong and focused, I really think it’s fabulous. She really wants to have a good solid senior year.”
While her hitting has always been potent, Beyer said McSparin has improved in many other facets of her game.
“She’s running the court really well and is very, very confident,” Beyer said. “She’s one of the top servers in the area. She’s really blossomed and emerged and grown.”
Junior strong-side hitter Sarah Beth Wiegman had her considerable all-around game on full display with a match-best 11 digs and five kills, which matched junior middle hitter Alex LaPorta for second place on the team.
“Although she’s short, the girl’s got hops and she’s doing a great job swinging on the strong side for us,” Beyer said of Wiegman, who leads the team with 106 digs.
In addition to her five kills, LaPorta also chipped in eight service points, one ace, two digs and one setting assist.
“She’s got the speed, she’s got the height and she’s super-aggressive,” Beyer said of LaPorta, second on the Lady Bulldogs in kills with 89 and second on the team in digs with 98.
The serving of senior Alyssa Anderson was also a big plus, as she served up a match-leading four aces while also matching LaPorta with a match-topping eight service points. Anderson, who is second on Highland with 20 aces, also put down three kills and had one block and two digs.
Also contributing to the victory were senior setter Sami Beyer with 24 assists, six service points, one ace and three digs, junior Madison Wellen with three kills, six service points, one ace and three digs, freshman libero Emmy Nyquist with seven digs and senior Cassie Lamzik with two digs.
In the loss at Waterloo, blocking was a big key for the orange and black Bulldogs as Kathryn Finnerty logged a match-high six blocks while Sam Kruse and Hannah Innis combined for five blocks. Kruse also added nine kills while Finnerty and Innis had six and five kills, respectively.
McSparin still banged out a match-best 14 kills, but her percentage of success on her attacks was much lower as she had 34 attempts. She also added three blocks, four digs and one ace.
LaPorta chipped in a match-leading 23 digs and a match-high 12 service points, to go along with 12 kills (on 32 attacks), two aces and one block.
Also providing stats in the defeat for Highland were Wiegman with 12 digs, two kills (on 14 attacks), four service points and one setting assist, Beyer with 26 assists, five digs and three service points, Anderson with three kills (on three attacks), one block, four digs and four service points, Wellen with three kills (on 17 attacks), seven digs, one block and three service points, Nyquist with eight digs and Lamzik with three digs.