By Mark Jurgena
The Highland Bulldog girls volleyball team picked up five wins in seven matches over the past week to raise their record to 8-4 on the season.
The previous week Highland had no matches scheduled and coach Natalie Ott believes the team activities of that off week had a major impact on last week’s success. Their regimen included a day off, some team bonding, some extensive drill work, and film study to really break the game of volleyball down to further her players’ understanding of the game.
“Taking a week off, having a week of practice, I really wanted to change some stuff up so it didn’t get dull,” said Ott. “I think it worked.”
Highland traveled to Charleston for a one-day tournament on September 18th. They returned with a 2nd place finish at the tournament.
“I thought our girls battled all day,” said Ott.
In the opening match at 10 AM, they soundly defeated Decatur (MacArthur) 25-11, 25-14. The Dogs followed that with a 25-23, 25-22 loss to Effingham. They rebounded with a victory over Olney (Richland County) 25-15, 25-17.
They advanced out of their pool with a 2-1 mark and met Carbondale in the semifinals. They soundly defeated the Terriers in two games 25-17, 25-14 to set up a rematch with Effingham in the championship game.
Highland pushed the match to three games but in the end fell to the Hearts 25-22, 12-25, 25-22.
Two Bulldogs made the all-tourney team at Charleston. Morgan Langendorf and Lilli Evans made the squad.
“This is her (Evans’) first year of playing varsity,” began Ott. “She has totally stepped up. She’s smart, she tools off the block, she knows when to go line, when to go cross, when to mix up her shots.
“I told her this week ‘listen I trust you, you’ve got great instincts. Go with your instincts. She is playing very, very well.”
Highland 25-25 Triad 16-20
In their MVC home opener on September 16th, the Dogs picked up a two-set victory over the Knights.
“We really caught our stride, I think,” said Ott. “We got a ton of compliments just how the girls are gelling and working together.”
Highland 25-25 Bethalto (Civic Memorial) 18-14
The Bulldogs opened up Mississippi Valley Conference play on September 14th with a two-set victory on the road at CM.
“That’s a hard place to play, they have a great fan section,” said Ott. “I would say we pretty much dominated them in two. We looked really good, gelling quite a bit.”
After last weekend’s play CM was 15-3-1 on the season.
Highland hosted Jerseyville on Tuesday in another MVC clash but results were unavailable at press time. They travel to Waterloo tonight. Highland, Waterloo, and Mascoutah were all 2-0 after week one of conference play.