Strong junior class to give Highlands VB edge in 2015

Strong junior class to give Highlands VB edge in 2015


Strong junior class to give Highlands VB edge in 2015


In a season that could have gone in a drastically different direction, Highlands High School’s volleyball team made progress.

The Bluebirds fell just a game short of avoiding another losing season, the team’s fourth straight. With postseason defeats in the 36th district final and 9th region opener, the Bluebirds finished 17-18 overall in head coach Katelyn Sallee’s first season at the helm.

“We made big steps as a team. We took a step in the right direction, but we want to be even better,” said Sallee. “The biggest thing is changing the culture and understanding how to be a fully functional team.”

The preparation for the 2015 season has already begun. Sallee took over the program in August, not knowing much about her players or how she could help them improve. A full offseason under their coach will be a huge boost for the program. Instead of scrambling to figure out rotations and get the team up to speed on the fly, Sallee can spend this offseason focusing on her players’ mechanics and fundamentals.

“I definitely think there’s a lot more advantage going into next season, knowing the team and knowing what I need to work on,” said Sallee. “I’m really excited about doing a lot of individual work in the offseason and real excited to tweak those little things.”

The Bluebirds graduate three seniors who will be missed. Kaitlin Hall played four years of varsity volleyball and ran the offense from her setter position. Outside hitter Jess Ginter was the leading scorer this season with over 200 more attempts than any other hitter on the team. Lauren Maines was a versatile rotation player off the bench. On the bright side, the Bluebirds return a deep junior class. Next year’s seniors will be the heart and soul of the team.

“We have a lot of strength and character in that group,” said Sallee. “We have diverse personalities that I think will fit into having a group lead.”

Izzy Schultz provides a vocal spark, while Anna Marie Houliston leads through her solid stoicism. Ellie Van Curen and A.J. Guth bring calmness. The team’s emotional balance will be a strength next season.

Highlands lost the district championship to rival NewCath for the second straight season. That match will stick in the minds of the Bluebirds and serve as motivation as they prepare for next season.

“We work every day to win that match,” said Sallee. “You’ve got to take care of your district to put yourself in a good position in the region.”

With a full offseason to prepare, the Bluebirds expect to return to their winning ways in 2015.


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