Trojans live up to No. 1 ranking

Trojans also defeated 5A, 4A teams

News editor

The Hillsboro Trojans volleyball team lived up to its ranking as the No. 1 team in class 3A, as voted by the Kansas Volleyball Association, in the Southeast of Saline tournament Saturday. The Trojans defeated Salina South, Sacred Heart, and Concordia in pool play, Abilene in the semifinals, and Southeast of Saline in the finals.

Hillsboro began the tournament by defeating Salina South 25-14 and 25-9, despite Salina South being two classifications above Hillsboro. The Trojans also defeated Sacred Heart, 25-13 and 25-15, and 4A Concordia, 25-17 and 25-12.

The Trojans started slow against 4A Abilene, but steadily increased their lead. The Trojans won game one 25-14 on a service ace by Alex Ratzlaff. Hillsboro fell behind early in game two before tying the score at 8. The Trojans never trailed again in the match and won 25-15.

Hillsboro faced Southeast of Saline in the finals in a match that all the facts suggested should have been evenly matched. Like Hillsboro, Southeast of Saline went into the match without a loss in the season. They were ranked No. 4 by the Kansas Volleyball Association, but they had home-court advantage. And early in game one, it was as even as those facts suggested it should have been. Neither team could get a lead of more than 1 point until Hillsboro created a little bit of separation at 7-5.

Hillsboro maintained a lead for the rest of game one, but Southeast of Saline kept it close. Hillsboro’s biggest lead came at 20-14. The Trojans won 25-21 on a spike by Ratzlaff.

Southeast of Saline took an early advantage in game two, forcing Hillsboro into an uphill climb. Hillsboro tied the game at 8, then again at 9 and 10. Hillsboro got its first lead at 11-10, but Southeast of Saline again tied the game.

Hillsboro then built a lead to 16-11 with Lakyn Johnson serving. Southeast of Saline didn’t give up though, narrowing the lead to 18-16. Shannon Heiser ended Southeast of Saline’s run with a tip for a sideout, and Hillsboro went on a run of its own with Maddi Duerksen serving, pushing the score to 24-16. The run included an ace by Duerksen, a spike by Danae Bina, and a tip by Addie Lackey. Hillsboro won the finals 25-17.

“We knew there was going to be some stiff competition,” head coach Sandy Arnold said, pointing to the 4A and 5A schools, as well as successful 3A teams like Beloit and Southeast of Saline.

Arnold said she was pleased with the team’s serving and passing, which set up the offense to be more successful.

“We can attack the ball much better,” Arnold said.

She said the team members are all improving, although some are focusing on more advanced parts of the game than others. She said Heiser, Darcy Heinrichs, and Emily Jost have spent a lot of time practicing blocking. Blockers don’t have to stuff a spike to be successful, Arnold explained. Deflecting the ball up so back row defenders get a better shot at it is nearly as good.

Arnold said Duerksen, the team’s primary setter, is improving her sense of where the outside hitters want the ball for spikes. Because Lackey and Ratzlaff are as athletic as they are, they can compensate for sets that aren’t perfectly placed, she added.

2 more victories

The Trojans defeated Haven 25-17 and 25-14 and Cheney 25-18 and 28-26 Tuesday night at Haven.

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