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Hillsboro avenges loss to win tourney

News editor

Saturday was payback time.

Hillsboro won its own volleyball tournament Saturday by taking down Sterling, the team that dealt the Trojans their first loss of the season Sept. 30.

“I watched a lot of film for that match right there, because I wasn’t going to let it happen again,” head coach Sandy Arnold said.

With screams and fist pumps punctuating each point scored, the Trojans dominated early in the first set of the championship match, racing to a 19-3 lead. The Black Bears struggled back to within 20-10, but Lakyn Johnson hammered a kill off a Sterling defender, and the Trojans finished off the set 25-10.

With Shelley Arnold serving at 8-6 in the second set, the Trojans streaked to a more comfortable 13-6 lead on kills from Johnson and Alex Ratzlaff and a loft shot from Shannon Heiser. The edge was still seven points, 20-13, when Hillsboro regained serve on a Ratzlaff kill. Ratzlaff served up two aces, and Julie Sinclair set the ball for Ratzlaff and Heiser kills that completed the Trojan sweep 25-13.

Hillsboro was sharp all day, winning every set it played. They defeated Chapman, Minneapolis, and Sunrise Christian in pool play, and beat Circle in a semifinal match.

Arnold said the Trojans may have benefited in the final from being in an easier pool than Sterling.

“I thought our pool play wasn’t as tough as theirs, so I was a little concerned about playing to that level,” Arnold said. “I’ll give Rock Creek and Circle and Sterling credit for wearing each other out.”

Ratzlaff said the Trojans focused on blocking and defense in practices leading up to the tournament.

“We have bruises on our hands and aches in our legs from jumping and blocking, but it’s awesome,” Ratzlaff said. “We never do the same drill twice. When we work on blocking there are 30 different drills we can do and never get tired of it.”

The Trojans also prepared with an eye toward the potential rematch with Sterling.

“We worked on defense against them, since we lost to them,” Heiser said. “We figured out how to take care of them.”

Ratzlaff said the Sept. 30 loss to the Black Bears was a wake-up call that brought more focus and teamwork to the Trojans.

“Our first loss to Sterling told us we can’t do this by ourselves,” Ratzlaff said. “We’ve got to step it up and come together. Our seniors are doing a great job of talking it out in huddles. When we all have the same goal we’re going to stop at nothing to fix whatever is going to keep us from reaching that goal.”

The Trojans and Black Bears could face each other one more time Saturday in the substate tournament in Hillsboro.

“We’re probably going to see them again at substate,” Arnold said. “I don’t know, but it’s very possible, and if we do we’re going to have to be ready, because they’re a solid team.

Last modified Oct. 23, 2014

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