Save for the usual opening-night jitters, the Highland Park Lady Scots very much looked the part of a talented, veteran team in disposing of Red Oak, 25-23, 28-26, 25-18, on Tuesday at Highlander Field House.
“We definitely had an advantage on height,” Highland Park head coach Michael Dearman said. “Playing against Red Oak is typically a battle. Last year, we went five games with them, and it was a two-and-a-half-hour match. It was nice to take care of them in three. “The first two were close games. As a coach, you love the wins, but you want to see them keep improving. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I like where we’re starting.”
The first two games looked like it would be a typical Highland Park-Red Oak epic battle. However, the Lady Scots were able to close out both of them with strong finishes. After Red Oak battled back to tie Game 1 at 23, the Lady Scots got a kill from Elizabeth Gilley and a block from Eleanor Watson to seal the win. In Game 2, the Lady Scots fended off game point twice before coming away with the win and stealing all of the momentum. After jumping out to a 17-9 lead, Highland Park dominated Game 3 to seal its first season-opening sweep since 2009.
Caroline Downing led the way in kills for the Lady Scots with 10, while Maggie Taylor had nine, Gilley had eight, and Watson added six. Grace Carter led the team in digs with 15, but Lena Pierce added 12, Landry Ray had 11, and Gilley added nine. Pierce also had 35 assists, while Watson had three blocks.
“Our leaders were doing a great job,” Dearman said. “Our younger players were a little bit ‘deer in the headlights,’ but that’s to be expected. The good news is they have the confidence with the leaders our there to pull them through. “The experience is huge. A younger, more inexperienced team might have lost one or two of those close games.”