After two tournaments, the expectations for the Hillsboro High School volleyball team have changed.
“We didn’t play as well as we did Saturday,” head coach Sandy Arnold said of Thursday’s matches. “I guess we did the things we need to do.”
The Trojans won all of their matches Thursday in Marion. They defeated Marion, 25-19 and 26-24; Moundridge, 25-13 and 25-19; and Southeast of Saline, 25-17 and 25-21.
Hillsboro won all their matches in consecutive games and only trailed by three points in separate occasions against Marion and SES. The Trojans are 9-0 on the year, losing only one game to Smoky Valley in the Central Kansas League tournament.
When a coach is unsatisfied after two-game victories, it’s a good sign that the team has raised the bar on its season.
Excellence is the new measuring stick.
The victories on Thursday were a combination of solid execution at each part of the game.
Hillsboro served effectively, taking advantage of opponent positioning. Haley Jirak had strings of serves against Marion and Moundridge to allow the Trojans to stretch leads. In the first game against Marion, she was able to serve to the Marion defender who was alone on the weak side of the court.
“She’s got a strong serve,” Arnold said of Jirak’s serve that often pops loudly off an opponent’s forearms. “Haley goes for the ace.”
Arnold was pleased with the Trojans passing especially on hits that took unusual angles at Trojan defenders. Arnold cited an instance where Tena Loewen reached to the right side of her body to corral a hit from an SES player. Allie Faul and Krista Reimer had similar passes.
The Trojans rarely put together possessions that didn’t end in spikes. Arnold said the team worked on recognizing situations where opponents would spot-serve against them.
“We work on passing the ball from where we would get spot served,” Arnold said. “You have to work on the things you do to other people.”
No matter who received an opponent’s spike it was lofted high into the air for an easy set for Faul or Callie Serene.
“There’s not one day that goes by where we don’t do a passing drill,” Arnold said.
Faul and Serene were precise with their sets, especially Faul on cross-court assists to Loewen. When the sets weren’t perfect, Loewen, Reimer, Taylor Thiessen, and Erin Loewen were able to adjust in the air to deliver a hit.
“First of all, they’re athletes. I don’t think they get enough credit sometimes,” Arnold said of her hitters. “We work on those in practice. We want to make something good out of a ball that’s not perfect.”
The Trojans entered the season as a young team with modest expectations.
“I think because we have a young team we’re very determined to show people that we can do it,” Jirak said.