The Highlands Lady Highlander volleyball team fell out of first place in the Little Smoky Mountain Conference for the first time this season, losing 3-0 to rival Blue Ridge Friday night.
The unbeaten Lady Bobcats put up a methodical, businesslike performance at the expense of the Lady Highlanders posting the win, 25-15, 25-17 and 25-16 in front of an empty gymnasium in Cashiers.
The opening night game with BREC was a scrimmage, which the Lady Bobcats won 3-1, and will not impact standings.
Because of COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, no visiting fans were permitted to attend the Dec. 4 match. A crowd of about 15 watched the match under mandates that no more than 25 fans could attend.
Highlands falls to 2-1 behind the 2-0 Lady Bobcats in the Little Smoky Mountain Conference. In this limited schedule every game counts, even more so this year than normal.
Highlands Coach Desiray Schmitt said her team is playing their season one day and one game at a time.
“We talk about upcoming games but focus on the next one and work on mistakes from the last time we played them,” she said.
Game one turned out to be a see-saw match in the early going though Highlands played on the short end of the scoreboard after taking an early 2-0 lead. Trailing 15-14, HHS could only muster one final point on an Ava Schmitt block, during a 10-1 BREC run to close out the game 25-15.
India Clark led the Lady Highlanders offense in game one with steady offensive and defensive play. Schmitt said the sophomore knows where she’s at on the court.
“She reads the floor very well,” Schmitt said. “India played well Friday.”
In game two the Lady Highlanders fell behind 9-0 to open the contest and could never recover, losing 25-17.
In game three, Highlands kept it close trading points on the scoreboard before falling behind 9-6. BREC took advantage of some Highlands miscues to increase their lead to 18-11 before a timeout halted the skid. The Lady Highlanders couldn’t close the gap, trading points with BREC to fall 25-16.
“Everyone played well Friday,” Schmitt said. “We’re still working out a few kinks.”
The Lady Highlanders are off until Dec. 14 when they host Nantahala in a LSMC tilt. On Dec. 21, Highlands hosts Franklin in a non-conference match. As for a rematch, Highlands will get its chance to knot the LSMC race up when the Lady Highlanders and the Lady Bobcats mix it up again Dec. 30.
The regular season concludes in early January, 2021 with matches against Cherokee on Jan. 4 and Swain on Jan. 7.