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The Highland volley team’s regional opener didn’t end with a win, but the Huskies played some of their best volleyball this season as they were swept 3-0 by Iowa City Regina.
“I think tonight we really just brought it. We’ve been working so hard on improving and I think it really showed tonight,” Highland senior Kristy Thomann said.
Thomann led the Huskies in blocks during the match with two and was 10-10 on serves with two aces.
The first set saw a few major setbacks for the Huskies as the Regals jumped out to an early 7-1 lead and forced a Highland timeout. The Huskies played better out of the timeout but struggled to hold onto the ball for more than one serve at a time.
Regina eventually took a 20-11 lead and Aly Stokes suffered an ankle injury while scrambling for a ball on Highland’s side of the court. After her injury Regina took the next five straight points to win the set 25-11.
At that point, Thomann said the team got together and talked about having to step up.
“We got together and said that we just have to bring it now and we can figure it out,” Thomann said.
They did just that and took a 10-8 lead on Regina in the second set of the match. The Huskies had minimized their errors and used kills from Emilee Thomann and Sarah Schneider to keep pace with the Regals. Then a huge streak came from Regina, putting the score from 10-8 HIghland to 20-11 Regina. Regina would go on to win the set 25-13.
With their season on the line in the third set, the Huskies brought their best volleyball.
“They played with heart there and that was just our biggest goal tonight,” Highland head coach Whitney Howard said.
The Huskies battled from an 11-7 deficit to tie things 20-20 off a Sarah Schneider kill. A pair of Highland unforced hitting errors gave Regina a 22-20 cushion, which was enough to close out the set 25-21 and advance past Highland.
Howard pointed to energy from players like Kristy Thomann and Holly Schneider as reasons why Highland was able to stay with Regina for most of the night. She said the whole team has shown they are very capable players and can play tough, but she said tonight was their best in-game performance.
“What has been frustrating all season is that I’ve seen that in them and they’ve shown that (in practice) but haven’t brought it out,” Howard said. “We’ve all really focused on it the last month of the season and tonight they went out and did it.”
The Huskies finish the season with a 4-17 record.
With the heavy senior losses, the Huskies will rely on next year’s seniors for leadership. Setters Emily Streb and Kaylee Rath return while front line players Alyssa Brase and Haley Sweeting will also be seniors.
Highland: 11; 13; 21
Regina: 25; 25; 25