Highland was able to improve to 4-0 in league play and 6-1 overall on Thursday by claiming a 25-7, 25-5, 25-13 win over visiting Mount Gilead.
Big scoring runs sparked the Scots in the match, as they were able to take possession of the serve and maintain it for five or more points multiple times in each of the three games. Making things even better for Highland coach Rob Terrill was that he was getting those runs with a variety of different girls on the court.
“We played 13 players today,” said the coach. “I told them this is the type of situation that allows us to have a lot of letter-winners coming back every year and there’s the responsibility for the older players to help the younger ones out.”
Highland’s first run came early in the first game. With the score tied at 1-1, the Scots got five straight points from Lillee Keltner to jump out to an early lead. Darcie Walters followed with two points and Kendall Stover contributed five more as the Highland lead ballooned to a 16-4 margin.
Mount Gilead would get a defensive stop followed by a pair of scores from Ella Fraizer, but Highland would regain possession with a 17-7 lead. The arm of Abby Eusey would then decide the game, as she served for eight straight points to give the Scots a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five contest.
The Indians would keep things close in the early going of the second game, closing within a 4-3 margin after a point from McKenzie Bump. However, Highland would get a defensive point and then tallied seven straight points off the serving of Raina Terry.
Leading 13-4 going into their next service attempt, the Scots got a total of 10 points from the combination of Stover and Cassady Sagar and would wind up with a convincing 25-5 win.
Mount Gilead got out to a good start in the third game, leading 2-0 after a defensive point and a scoring serve from Jessica Brewer. The Scots quickly bounced back, though, as four points each from Zoya Winklefoos and Emma West would spark them to a 10-4 lead.
The Indians would get a three-point run from Bump to close within a 10-8 margin, but wouldn’t be able to get any closer. Five points from Reggie Leo, three from Makenna Belcher and two from Walters were sufficient for the Scots to pull away to claim the three-game sweep.
Despite the loss, Mount Gilead coach Tammie Masters feels her team is improving and has the right attitude to keep getting better.
“Our blockers are definitely coming alive,” she said. “They’re a team that does not give up. Just keep a positive attitude and just keep going.”
Stover had 10 kills and three aces in the match for Highland. Belcher added nine kills, Gena West had four and Emma West had three. Terry tallied five kills and four aces, while Keltner, Walters and Sagar had three aces each.
Terrill noted that having five players with at least three aces was a result of his team working to serve more aggressively this year.
“We’re trying to serve a little tougher this year,” he said. “That’s been working for us. We are trying to put more pressure on the other team.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS