ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The Hillsboro High School volleyball team put up a tough fight against top-seeded Hope, but came up short in the championship match at the Centre Volleyball Invitational Saturday.
The Trojans, who were seeded second, beat the Lions in the first game, 15-8, but lost the next two by identical scores of 13-15. The loss ended Hillsboro’s unbeaten streak at eight matches for the season.
The Trojans sailed through pool play without losing a game, beating Marion in the opener, 15-3, 15-11, Berean Academy 15-0, 15-3, and the host team, 15-7, 15-11.
Hillsboro and Marion, the top two finishers in their pool, then moved onto semifinal action in the afternoon. The Trojans paired off against Burrton, the second-place finisher in the other pool, while the Warriors battled undefeated Hope.
Against Burrton, the Trojans and Chargers got off to an even start before Holly Lindsay served for six straight points to give Hillsboro a 13-7 edge en route to the 15-9 final score.
The Trojans essentially took the next game off, losing 1-15, but came back with a strong 15-3 win in the third and deciding game to make it to the championship match.
The Lions, meanwhile, defeated Marion in the other semifinal match, 15-3, 15-6. Undaunted, the Warriors came back to beat Burrton for third place, 15-10, 17-5.
In the first game of the championship match, the Trojans fell into a 1-7 hole before a string of scores with Andrea Peachey and Robyn Penner serving lifted Hillsboro to the 15-8 win.
In the second game, neither team led by more than three points en route to the 15-13 Hope victory.
In the third and deciding game, the Trojans rallied from a 7-12 to pull within one, 11-12 and again at 13-14, before Hope nailed down the win.
“The girls had a really good weekend,” coach Collette Burton said. “Our level of play against Hope had a few problems. But we adjusted well to Hope’s Shauna Reidy, a real good middle hitter. We started picking up her hits and got some really good digs off of her. We just didn’t talk at times, which brought us down, and we missed some key serves.”
For the tournament, Holy Lindsay led Hillsboro servers by making good on 64 of 73 attempts for 98.6 percent. Jenna Jost came off the bench to serve a perfect 16-for-16.
Jill Hein led the Trojans with 25 kills, followed closely by Shannon Kroeker with 24 and Robyn Penner with 22. Hein and Kroeker each added 24 blocks.
For their efforts, Lindsay, Hein and Kroeker were named to the all-tournament team along with Reidy and Laura Cowan of Hope and Brandi Peterie of Marion.
At Sterling, Sept. 4
Hillsboro was up and down all evening but managed to finish on top when it counted as the Trojans swept a pair of three-game matches from the Black Bears.
Hillsboro’s recovery in the first match verged on the miraculous. Down 12-1 in the third and deciding game, the Trojans reeled off 14 unanswered points-including a serving string of 10 straight by Jill Hein-to snatch the victory.
All the more mysterious was that the Trojans had just crushed the Black Bears 15-2 in the second game of the match after losing the opener, 8-15.
“It just amazed me that we were up the game before and played so well,” coach Collette Burton said. “We looked like a machine. They were really working hard and were working at the level they are supposed to be at.
“That third game, they were stressing me out a little bit by digging themselves into a hole,” she said. “Their intensity level just dropped so much.”
The inconsistency continued into the second match. The Trojans prevailed, 15-13, 11-15, 15-3, but were digging themselves into and out of holes all evening.
“We missed several important serves,” Burton said of the second match. “That kills you when you finally get the ball back and then miss serve.
“Volleyball is a game of momentum, but I think it was just letting our level of play down,” she added. “I’m hoping that by half way through the year we can really keep that level of play up. We seem to drop to whatever the other team is playing.
“That’s something we really need to work on because when we get up against a good team, we’re going to be in trouble if our level of play drops like that.”
The Trojans (4-0) made good on 129 of 145 serves for the evening, led by Holly Lindsay’s 20-for-21. Jenna Jost was a perfect 12-for-12.
On the other side of the net, the Trojans’ serve-received percentage dropped from last week’s season opener to 72 percent, but their success rate on attacks (78 percent) and sets (94 percent) improved.
Hein led the Trojans with 30 blocks and nine stuffs, while teammate Shannon Kroeker added 23 blocks and six stuffs.
Robyn Penner added 18 blocks and Sarah Thiessen each added 18 blocks.
Lindsay was successful on 95 of 103 set attempts and had 23 assists. Kroeker was 89 of 90 with nine assists.