By Rob Hamilton
Two days after handling eighth-seeded River Valley in three sets, the Highland volleyball team did the same thing to sixth-seeded Bexley to advance to the Division II district semifinals next week.
The third-seeded Scots got out to a fast start in the first game and never looked back in claiming a 25-13, 25-13, 25-11 win over the Lions. In that opening game, the team got a defensive point on the first serve of the contest and then tallied seven points on the serving of Ashlynn Belcher to jump out to a commanding eight-point lead.
Bexley would get within a 16-10 margin, but wouldn’t be able to close the gap any farther. After another defensive point, the team got three straight from Darcie Walters to lead 20-10 and then, still leading by 10 at 23-13, got a pair of scores from Abby Eusey to finish the first game.
While the scores in this match were nearly the same as Monday’s win over the Vikings, Highland coach Rob Terrill noted that his two opponents had differing styles of play, making his girls work on different things to have the same success.
“It was good for us,” he said of playing Bexley. “On Monday, we faced River Valley, who’s good in the middle. Tonight, we had Bexley, who’s good on the outside. We just have to keep getting better. I thought we did a good job hitting.”
The second game was close in the early going, as despite two points each from Makenna Belcher, Raina Terry and Kendall Stover, they only led 10-7 at one point. However, they’d increase that margin to a 14-9 score and then tallied five points on the serving of Ashlynn Belcher to lead by 10. Two points by Brilynn Tuggle and a couple defensive scores put the team on the verge of taking the set and one point served by Stover put the Highland girls one set away from winning the match.
Bexley made it tough for the Scots in the early going of that game. After Ashlynn Belcher scored four points to help stake the team to a 6-2 lead, the Lions got three from Kate Huefner and two from Giulia Viglietta to close withing a 9-8 margin.
Highland would maintain a slim lead until Walters served with the score 12-9 and tallied 11 straight points to turn a close game into a blowout, as Bexley would only be able to tally one defensive and one offensive points before the Scots put the finishing touches on the match.
“They got tight with us in the third set and we went on a run,” said the coach. “Pressure serving is what we’re working on where we’re targeting an area.”
After picking up his team’s second win in three days over a team seeded in the top eight of the district, Terrill noted that being able to play stronger competition that makes his team work for the win is what he wanted, in order to get them prepared for the kind of squads he’s expecting to face down the road.
“We can put our full line-up out in all three sets,” he said. “We haven’t gone five yet this year, so we need to work on our endurance and playing our starters only one set won’t work.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS