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Trojans take second at McPherson tourney

News editor

What does a volleyball coach say to her team after watching it self-destruct in the worst game it’s played all season?

If you’re Hillsboro Trojans coach Sandy Arnold, the answer is absolutely nothing.

The Trojans won the first set of a semifinal match in the McPherson tournament Saturday against McPherson 25-19, then imploded in the second. The Trojans trailed 5-7 when the Bulldogs, ranked third in Class 4A, reeled off 10 consecutive points in an 18-1 run to win 25-6.

When the team came to the sideline, they huddled with their arms around each other, talking intently. Arnold decided not to intervene.

“They knew I wasn’t pleased,” Arnold said. “I talked to Jill (Hein, assistant coach) about whether I should talk to them or not. We decided they were getting things back together on their own. They knew it was going to take them to pull it together.”

The players were smiling and laughing as they broke the huddle for the third set, apparently having put the stinging loss behind them. Hillsboro took a 5-3 lead on a service ace by Alex Ratzlaff, and led by 6 at 16-10. Arnold called a timeout when McPherson pulled to within 17-16, and coming out of the break Julie Sinclair set up Shannon Heiser for a kill. The Trojans held on to win the set 25-23 and advance to the championship.

Bishop Carroll, fifth-ranked in Class 5A, had the Trojans playing from behind most of the time, but Hillsboro kept both games close, losing 20-25 and 21-25 to finish second.

“We might have been a little tired,” Arnold said. “But they play a fast-paced game. We don’t see as much of that right now. They covered the court well and they moved well.”

Counting Thursday matches against Great Bend, which the Trojans won, and Newton, which they lost, Class 3A Hillsboro squared off against one Class 6A team, five Class 5A teams, and one 4A squad. The Trojans went 4-2 against the larger schools, including a 25-23, 25-17 win against 6A Hutchinson.

“We need this,” Arnold said. “It will make us better at the end of our year. It’s been a good week.”

Arnold pointed to Heiser as a key to the Trojans success.

“I think Shannon has been playing well the last week or so,” Arnold said. “She’s really stepped up her game, and that’s huge, because the more she hits, the more the defense has to be honest and can’t cheat on Alex all the time.”

The Trojans have been getting more out of Lakyn Johnson and Emily Jost, Arnold said.

“I think Lakyn and Emily both have been hitting the ball more, and they’re using the block well on the other side,” she said. “You’re going to face big blocks wherever you go, and you have to know how to use them.”

The Trojans were at home Tuesday against Halstead and Haven, and will host an invitational tournament Saturday.

Last modified Oct. 16, 2014

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