SPARTA — The Highland Scots were pushed to the limit in the first set, a 25-23 win, before settling in and rattling off two lop-sided wins in the second and third sets to keep their conference record unblemished.
“Fredericktown always plays us tough. It’s not a county rival, but we are close enough that it’s a rival,” Highland head coach Rob Terrill said. “They play us tough and they came out the first one and were taking swings at us and we were just on the defensive. We were able to maintain control at the end and win that one. Then we settled in in the second and third and played our game a little more.”
With a back-and-forth opening to the first set, a kill by Fredericktown’s Katharina Hamilton trimmed the Highland lead to 9-8. The Scots built a four-point lead three times in the early stages, but the Freddies continued to rebound, trimming the lead to 14-13 to force a Highland timeout. Following the break, an ace by Summer Weller knotted the game at 14, followed by a tip from Kelsey Boeshart to give Fredericktown the 15-14 lead.
The set tied twice more, before the Scots charged out to a three-point lead (22-19) off a kill from Terry. After a Fredericktown timeout, the Highland lead increased to four points on two different occasions, with the last being at 24-20. Staving off elimination, the Freddies got a tip from Paige Oswalt, an ace from Weller and a block from Boeshart, bringing the score to 24-23. Terry closed the door on Fredericktown to solidify the win for the Scots.
“That first set is what Fredericktown volleyball should be about, except with winning,” Fredericktown head coach Shena Beheler said. “I think they played really well. Nothing to be unhappy about with that first set.”
Highland came out firing in the second set to take a 3-0 lead, but Fredericktown battled back to tie the set at 5, the sets only tie. Back-to-back aces by Highland’s Ashlynn Belcher pushed the lead to 9-5 for the Scots and they never looked back. In a series of trading points, Terry had three kills in six points, giving Highland the 16-9 lead. After a block by Boeshart put the game at 21-10, the Scots secured four-straight points, including an ace from Terry and a set-sealing block from Gena West.
“In the first set, we were kind of leaning with our upper body and waiting for somebody else to make a play,” Terrill said. “During that first timeout in the second set, I said I didn’t want somebody else making the play. If you can make it, you make the play. They just had to trust themselves.”
After an early Fredericktown point in the third set, Highland surged out to an 11-1 lead, with the early run capped off by an ace from Kendall Stover, her third ace of the set already. Fredericktown cut the lead to single digits on four different occasions, but could not trim its deficit to below nine, with the final nine-point advantage at 14-5. Highland managed to cruise to the 25-12 win.
“Highland is always the team that everybody is after because they are conference champions several years in a row and they are a wonderful program,” Beheler said. “Obviously it is a hyped game and always exciting.
“We had a really good first game and then dug ourselves in a hole the next two and then it was over,” she added. “If you’re going to play a good program, you try to show up and play the best you can. There is nothing else you can do besides bring your best.”
Terry was atop the Scots stat sheet with 18 kills and four aces. Abby Eusey had six kills and Stover kicked in another four kills and three aces.
For the Freddies, Kelsey Boeshart paced the team with 12 kills, eight digs and an ace. Olivia Mast recorded 20 assists on the night, along with eight digs. Lindsey Boeshart notched seven kills, which she paired with four digs. Summer Weller had three kills, two aces and four digs.
Highland hits the road Tuesday to take on Cardington, while Fredericktown hosts East Knox. Freshmen action in both Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference contests kicks off at 4:30 p.m.