Thursday NKY sports round-up: Dixie, Highlands soccer tie; Ryle nabs 33rd District top seed

G. Michael Graham
G. Michael Graham
Mike Graham covers sports for LINK nky

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The Highlands Bluebirds and Dixie Heights Colonels met at Rice Mountjoy Stadium for another tough 9th Region boys soccer battle.

They left with a 2-2 draw. Dixie rallied from two goals down to even things up.

With the tie, Highlands is now 9-4-3 on the season while Dixie is 12-2-2.

“We started off slow,” said Trey Crone, Dixie head coach. “But kudos to our kids. They showed heart. They showed toughness and grit to come back against a good team. We had chances. I was very pleased with our second-half performance. We looked more like a complete team. We made some adjustments and we responded well.”

Both goalkeepers did what they could to give their teams chances to win. Highlands junior goalkeeper Jack Wilson had seven saves to five for Dixie Heights senior goalkeeper Braden Blackburn.

“There are so many tough teams,” Blackburn said. “We’re all right there with each other. It’ll come down to the wire every game. It will be high intensity, high physicality and we just have to play our best.”

Highlands came out and scored twice to build a 2-0 lead in the first half. Junior midfielder Chad Gesenhues scored his fourth goal of the season first and senior Caden Schroeder had the assist.

“I think the passing has been pretty good,” Schroeder said. “I think we still have a few things to work on like moving around the midfield sharper. I think we’re getting there. At the end of the season, we’ll be really strong in passing.”

Then junior midfielder Adarsh Khullar scored and senior forward Colin Pieper had the assist. Khullar has two goals this year.

Dixie scored just before halftime to trim the lead to 2-1. Senior Reed Brixey scored on a pass from senior Bennett Gerak for his eighth goal this season.

Then with 6:09 left in the game, Gerak scored on a penalty kick to tie it. Gerak has 16 goals and 15 assists this year.

“We have to manage the game better,” said Brandon Ponchak, Highlands head coach. “We didn’t do as good a job of it in the second half. But we still have a nice streak going.”

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Dixie plays host to Lexington Paul Dunbar (8-2-2) on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Highlands does not play again until Tuesday when (Cincinnati) Walnut Hills comes to town for a 7:30 p.m. game.

Boys Soccer

Ryle 1, Conner 0

The Raiders (9-3-2) earned the top seed in the 33rd District tournament with the home win over the Cougars (8-4-3). Conner finished 1-2 in district seed play to take the third seed.

“They’re a solid club,” said Stephen Collins, Ryle head coach. “They gave us everything we could handle. We were fortunate enough to score a goal pretty early in the game and that allowed us to open up play a bit. But in that second half, they kept fighting. They had some quality opportunities. Our defense has to play one heck of a game to hold onto that shutout.”

The game’s lone goal came five minutes into it. Junior midfielder Diego Honderkamp scored on a cross from freshman striker Brice Denigan for his 15th goal of the season.

Ryle had 22 shots to 12 shots for Conner. Junior goalkeeper Landon Barth had seven saves and Conner sophomore goalkeeper Trey Wagner had six.

“It’s really just staying on your toes and being ready for what’s coming at you,” Barth said. “You can really only use your instincts. With my experience in the game, I’ve kind of figured out how the shooters think. But in open play, it’s really just all about reacting and how I can basically throw myself where I need to be.”

Ryle plays in the Bruin Classic on Friday against Lexington Catholic (6-2-5) at 8 p.m. at Elizabethtown Sportspark. Conner plays at Cincinnati (Ohio) Elder on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Other Boys Soccer Scores:

Beechwood 6, Holmes 0

Scott 4, Campbell County 3 (overtime)

Cooper 4, Grant County 0

Covington Catholic 10, Boone County 1

Villa Madonna 7, Covington Latin 0

Holy Cross 2, Walton-Verona 1

Ryle freshman Morgan Heater sets up to serve in the win at Scott on Thursday. Heater had 11 kills in the 3-0 Ryle win. Photo by G. Michael Graham | LINK nky.


Ryle 3, Scott 0

The Raiders (11-7) downed the Eagles (17-6) by 25-22, 25-19, 25-22 scores. The hosts made the visitors earn everything.

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“Scott is a scrappy team,” said Tasha Lovins, Ryle head coach. “They fought hard digging up a lot of balls.”

Ryle had 41 kills, 38 assists, 66 digs, seven aces and one combined block from junior Merisa Workman and junior hitter Kiana Dinn. Dinn had 17 kills with freshman Morgan Heater recording 11 and sophomore Olivia Karlosky recording seven.

Junior libero Alexis Woolf had 16 digs and three aces with Karlosky digging up 13 balls. Karlosky and Heater had two aces each. Senior Maddie Clark had 22 assists and Dinn had 13 for the Raiders.

“We came together and started playing together as a team. I think that helped us push through to win,” Woolf said. “I think first contact is definitely the most important part of the game because if you don’t have a good first pass, you’re not going to go forward. I think we try to do a lot of that in the gym. We try to make perfect passes all the time so we can be in system.”

Scott had four aces, 25 kills, 11 blocks, 23 assists and 76 digs. Senior setter Audrey Griffin had 18 assists and 15 digs. Senior Laine Morman had 17 digs with freshman Milyn Minor tallying seven kills, two blocks and 14 digs. Senior Makaylah Mitchell had eight kills, five blocks and nine digs.

“I told them this is great preparation. We have Campbell County coming up next week,” said Andrea Sullivan, Scott head coach. “My biggest thing is I’ll take a loss as long as I feel like we got better from it. I feel like (Thursday) was one of those nights where I’m not mad about losing. I thought our girls played very hard. I thought our girls hustled and we learned from any mistakes that we might have made on the court. We only missed one serve so that’s something to be proud of.”

Ryle fell behind in the first and third games but the Raiders came back both times getting into a better offensive rhythm and controlling the net better.

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“When we all come together, it’s really good,” said Jesse Probst, Ryle junior hitter. “I love my team. They’re amazing. When we make plays, there’s nothing better than that. If you don’t have teamwork, you’re not going to do anything. It’s not an individual sport. It’s a team sport.”

Ryle plays in the Kentucky Challenge on Friday against Bryan Station at 5:30 p.m. Scott plays at Cincinnati (Ohio) McNicholas on Monday at 7:30 p.m.

Highlands 3, Newport Central Catholic 1

The Bluebirds (7-10) took down the Thoroughbreds (11-11) in a 36th District game on the Hill. Highlands won the first two games 25-21, 25-12 before losing 25-19 in the third game then winning 25-21 in the fourth game.

“I’d definitely say we clicked,” said Michelle Woods, Highlands head coach. “We hustled. We were back on our heels in the third set. But once we kind of shook that off, our girls played hard. They executed. They did what they needed to do. They played with energy.”

Highlands has won 10 of the last 11 meetings between the two. The Bluebirds are hoping for their sixth straight district tournament championship.

“We did pretty well with that first pass,” said Emma Daly, Highlands senior middle hitter. “It’s been a tough season. But we played more as a team. It went really well.”

Junior Kori Reckers led NewCath with 20 assists, 20 digs, six kills, one block and one ace. Sophomore Caroline Eaglin had 11 kills, six digs, one assist, one block and one ace. Sophomore Katelyn Brannen had nine kills, three digs, one assist and one block.

Highlands plays in its own Cake Classic on Friday and Saturday. NewCath travels to Lexington for the Kentucky Challenge.

Other Volleyball Scores

Newport 2 (25-21, 25-20), Heritage Academy 0

Conner 3 (25-12, 25-12, 25-9), Calvary Christian 0

Pendleton County 2 (25-10, 25-13), Bellevue 0

Villa Madonna 3 (25-3, 25-5, 25-3), Covington Latin 0

Williamstown 3 (23-25, 23-25, 25-10, 25-23, 16-14), Lloyd Memorial 2

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