The Hillsboro Trojans volleyball team went 5-0 Saturday in the Central Kansas League preseason volleyball tournament at home, winning the tournament championship in hot conditions.
In pool play, the Trojans defeated Sterling 25-7 and 25-17 and Nickerson 25-13 and 25-5 to advance to the bracket. Emily Jost rolled her ankle in the Nickerson match, but she had played well before the injury, Coach Sandy Arnold said. Darcy Heinrichs filled Jost’s spot in the rotation the rest of the tournament.
“Darcy did a fantastic job,” Arnold said, crediting the junior for being ready when she probably didn’t expect to play much.
The Trojans played Haven in the quarterfinals. Scoring started off back-and-forth until a streak with Alex Ratzlaff serving gave the Trojans an 11-3 lead. Haven cut the lead to 11-6 before Maddi Duerksen ended the Haven run, tipping the ball to the floor when Haven prepared to defend against a set and spike. The Trojans continued to expand the lead, finishing game one, 25-15, with a spike by Shannon Heiser.
Hillsboro started game two with a 7-1 lead while Lakyn Johnson served, and Haven didn’t win a service point until 10-4. Hillsboro maintained a lead of about 5 points for the rest of the game, winning 25-19. The closest Haven came to catching the Trojans was 18-15.
The semifinals against Hesston was the longest match of the tournament for Hillsboro, taking three games to complete and being frequently delayed so players could wipe sweat off the court.
Game one was a close contest, with the Trojans and Swathers being tied at 17, 18, 19, and 20 before Hillsboro rattled off a 5-point streak to win, 25-20.
The Trojans took a 6-1 lead early in game two, forcing a Hesston timeout. Hesston took a lead at 12-11, but Hillsboro pushed ahead again to 17-13. With Hillsboro leading 18-17, the officials stopped play to give everybody a chance to have a drink. When play resumed, Hesston came back to win, 25-20.
Both teams mis-hit serves early in the deciding third game, and the game was all tied at 7 before the Trojans went on a 6-1 run, capped by a spike by Addie Lackey. The officials called for another drink break with Hillsboro leading 18-11. The Trojans won the game 25-17 and the match when Ratzlaff blocked an attempted spike.
The Trojans got an early 8-2 lead in the finals against Pratt with Bradli Nowak serving. Pratt then cut Hillsboro’s lead to 8-7, before a tip by Ratzlaff gave Hillsboro the serve again. As players rotated out, they dunked towels in ice water and draped them over their shoulders to help stay cool. Hillsboro won game one 25-21 while the ball bounced from the rafters through a basketball hoop.
Game two was close through six points, but a six-serve streak by Heiser, with many of them unreturned, gave Hillsboro a commanding 14-7 lead. The Trojans extended the lead to 12 points at 22-10 before winning 25-16 on a spike by Lackey.
At the end of the tournament, several players attempted to see how far they could slide in their sweat-soaked jerseys. Danae Bina, who had played all day in a long-sleeved libero jersey, slid the farthest. Arnold said it was the first time her players had done something like that.
Overall Arnold was pleased with the team’s preparation for the tournament.
“We came out actually better than I was expecting,” she said.
She said players who were new to the varsity rotation contributed well. However, she wants to see sharper, more consistent serving and net play from the Trojans.
The next varsity action for the team will be a double dual Tuesday with Word of Life Traditional, Hesston, and Douglass, at Douglass. Matches will begin at 5 p.m.