Highland continued its perfect season, as the Scot volleyball team defeated Mount Gilead by scores of 25-7, 25-11, 25-11 in a Thursday night road contest.
Possibly the biggest positive for Highland coach Rob Terrill was that his team got to work on improving its bench, as he played a lot of girls in the contest, particularly in the second and third games.
“We talked in the last week or so that we just need to utilize our players,” he said. “Our bench needs to be deeper.”
After primarily playing his starters in a quick first game, Terrill started mixing up his rotation in order to have both regulars and bench players on the floor in the remaining two sets.
“We may have different people in different spots and that’s where communication has to come in,” he said. “I though we handled that well.”
On the other sideline, with her team looking for its first win, MG coach Linda DeMatteis noted that she has been able to see improvement.
“The girls stayed with them and did a good job and kept at it,” she said. “They were moving well on the court.”
As she noted, a big problem with facing the Scots was their ability to turn close games into lopsided ones with just one scoring run — a development which happened in the second game.
MG took an early lead in the contest and was able to stay close to the Scots, only trailing 9-8 partway through the set after getting a score from Abbie Van Houten’s serving. However, Highland got a defensive stop and then tallied eight straight points off the serving of Mikaela Brown to increase their advantage to a 10-point margin.
After that, Highland was able to finish the game with four points from Gena West to take a 2-0 lead in the match. The visitors would then open the third set quickly. After MG’s Kora James opened the game with a point, Highland got two points from Bailey Santo and four more from Tabatha Arnold to lead 9-3.
From there, the team would not surrender a point to the Indian offense, while getting four points from Brown and two each from Santo and Bridget Oder as they pulled away for the three-game sweep.
Despite the loss, DeMatteis, who cited Maddie Mathwig and McKenzie Bump for having some outstanding blocks, emphasized that her team has been making progress.
“They’ve come a long way,” she said. “And they’re playing as a team, which is one of my goals.”
For the Scots, who got 17 kills from Raina Terry, seven kills from West, five kills and four aces by Brown, four kills from Makenna Belcher and three aces by Krista Walters, Terrill is hoping to use the rest of the regular season as a tune-up for the postseason, while also focusing on holding on to a slim lead in the race for the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference.
“We were banged up a little early, but now seem healthy,” he said. “Right now, we just have a one-game lead, so for the next two weeks, we have to be focused. If our bench gets longer, that will help us in the long run.”