In a tightly-contested regional semifinal volleyball match, the Highland Scots were edged by Hamilton Badin Thursday at Vandalia Butler High School.
After winning the first set 25-22, the Scots dropped three straight sets by narrow margins. Badin won by scores of 25-23, 26-24 and 25-21 to close Highland’s season with a 23-4 mark.
Badin’s size proved to be a factor in the decision. The Rams had two girls at 6’ or taller and several more listed at 5’10” or 5’11”.
“They’re a big team,” said head coach Rob Terrill. “We can’t grow during the match, so we have to play around it. By the scores of all four sets, we played our hearts out.”
In the first set, the Scots succeeding in playing around their opponent’s height, although it wasn’t easy. One point from Zoya Winkelfoos, two from Kameron Stover and three by Brooke Schott helped the team jump out to a 10-6 lead, but they would watch their opponents rally — even taking a 17-16 lead after getting three straight points from Elyse Weinheimer.
Highland would immediately rebound to get a defensive stop and tie the score. Schott then scored twice in a row to give the Scots a narrow lead they would hold the rest of the way. Badin’s final five service attempts were shut down by the locals, who would take the set on a point served by Stover.
The second set played out much the same way — at least until the end. The teams traded the lead several times. Four points by Camryn Miller gave the Scots a 5-2 lead, but Badin responded with four points from Alyvia Hegemann to jump in front. Two points each from Winkelfoos and Stover got Highland back in front 11-10.
A bit later, with the Scots holding an 18-17 advantage, they would get two points from Winkelfoos to lead by three. However, this time, they wouldn’t be able to score off their serve down the stretch. Badin was able to chip away at their deficit and with the score tied at 23, got the final two points off the serving of Sarah Newberry to knot the match at one set each.
Terrill felt that if his team could have closed out that set, things might have turned out a lot differently.
“I think if we finish off the second set, things could have been a little different momentum-wise,” he said.
Early in the third set, it looked like Highland had gotten the momentum back. Three points by both Miller and Winkelfoos and five straight from Schott got the team out to a 15-6 lead. Badin responded, though, getting four points by Shelby Mulcare, two from Newberry and five in a row from Grace Glover to turn a nine-point deficit into a three-point lead at 20-17.
Highland would rally to regain an advantage behind a defensive score and three straight points served by Miller. However, that 21-20 lead would not last. The tams traded points until, with the score 24-24, the Rams were able to get two straight points by Mulcare to go up 2-1 in the match.
Three points by Winkelfoos helped Highland jump out to a 5-2 lead in the fourth set, but Badin would rally to take the lead behind five straight points from Weinheimer. Badin would add to their lead, with three Mulcare points putting them up 22-14.
The Scots would have one more rally in them. Trailing 24-16, they got a defensive point and Larsen Terrill then served four straight times for scores to bring them within a three-point margin. However, the team couldn’t keep that run going and the Rams were able to claim the win.
“We knew they had the height advantage,” said Rob Terrill. “in the end, I think their height wore us down.”
Highland, who graduates Alexis Eusey, Allison McCafferty, Anya Taylor, Schott and Winkelfoos, got 14 kills, three aces and three blocks from Winkelfoos; 10 kills, four aces and five blocks by Schott. and four kills by Eusey. Terrill finished with 32 assist and seven kills and Stover added five kills and three blocks.
Terrill felt his team had nothing to be ashamed of after their hard-fought match with the Rams.
“When you win 10 league championships in a row and six district titles in 10 years, the girls feel a need to keep stepping up,” he said. “This is what we do. I’m really proud of the girls. Badin is an awesome team, but we hung with them.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS