The Hillsboro High School volleyball team lost in the championship match of the Central Kansas League Preseason tournament to Pratt, 14-25 and 22-25, Saturday at Kingman.
The loss was a sour ending to a tournament in which the Trojans played well despite being shorthanded. Right-side hitter Taylor Thissen was already sidelined for the season after shoulder surgery, junior hitter Erin Loewen missed the tournament because of illness. Head coach Sandy Arnold said the Trojans ran out of gas in their second match against Pratt on Saturday. Arnold used seven Trojans throughout the six-match tournament.
“Pratt does a lot of tipping,” Arnold said. “If you’re not moving, you’re not going to get there.”
Arnold was frustrated with several calls in the close second game of the championship match. She echoed a consistent complaint from CKL coaches that Pratt’s setter was holding the ball too long on sets. There was a short serve that sophomore Danae Bina was able to tap over the net. Arnold thought the ball landed on the short corner of the Pratt side, but the ball was called out.
Bina and fellow sophomore Maci Schlehuber were two players who helped fill the vacancies left by Thiessen and Loewen. Never having hit at a varsity level, Bina played as an outside hitter. Schlehuber spent more time as a middle hitter.
Sophomore Addie Lackey was the Trojans best server Saturday. Lackey amassed a streak of nine consecutive serves, five for aces, against Sterling in the first game of the Trojans first match, a 25-3 win. Arnold said Lackey can put deceptive spin on her floating jump serve but can also serve to the correct spot. Arnold said serving was a strength for the Trojans in nearly every match.
Passing was another bright spot for Hillsboro. Arnold said Krista Reimer played well, receiving more back-row play than the senior hitter is normally accustomed to. Schlehuber’s passing has also improved from last season, Arnold said. Seniors Sammy Koons and Lindsey Brazil performed well as back row players off the bench.
“She does a great job at performing her role,” Arnold said of Koons. “She does what you ask; you can’t ask for too much more as a coach.”
Bina and junior Tena Loewen had a couple highlight-reel passes throughout the tournament. During one point, Loewen did the splits to get to a ball. Bina had several balls she just barely saved from touching the court.
Quality Hillsboro passing helped senior Callie Serene in her first tournament as a full-time setter. Loewen and Reimer also assisted Serene by adjusting to balls in midair for solid hits. Arnold commended Serene’s performance.
“I’m sure she realized how hard it is,” Arnold said. “She had nice saves at the net. She’s getting smarter with what she does with balls, knowing where to go.”
The Trojans faced teams that ran the gamut in the CKL in order of difficulty during pool play, Arnold said. Hillsboro defeated Sterling, 25-3 and 25-15; Kingman, 25-15 and 25-25; Pratt, 25-18, 24-26, and 25-14; and Halstead, 25-20 and 25-13. The Trojans defeated Hesston in the first playoff round, 25-16 and 25-7, before losing to Pratt.
“I think playing these teams – Halstead and Pratt – we can be at the top of the league,” Arnold said.
“They looked like they were having fun,” Arnold said of her team. “We had good support from the crowd and good support from the bench.”
Hillsboro plays 5 p.m. Thursday at Moundridge. The quadrangle features Moundridge, Marion, and Southeast of Saline.