ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The Hillsboro Trojans ran out of steam against a tall and talented squad from Moundridge and finished second at the eight-team Canton-Galva Invitational volleyball tournament Saturday in Canton and Galva.
The Wildcats (18-3) claimed the championship plaque with a convincing 15-7, 15-7 win over the Trojans (16-4).
The Trojans, winners of Pool B with a 3-0 record, went to three games against a tough Canton-Galva team in the semifinals before winning, 9-15, 15-9, 15-12.
But against Moundridge, the winners of Pool A with a 3-0 record and a two-game winner over Hesston in the semifinal, the Trojans, seeded No. 2 in the tournament, were simply overpowered by the No. 1 seeded Wildcats.
“Moundridge is a great team,” head coach Collette Burton said. “They have great hitters. We really struggled getting our blocks up. They were running some plays and faking out our blockers. We weren’t getting to the blocks, and that just kills your back row.
“By that last match, we had worked all day,” she said. “We struggled, but I was proud of them for their play overall.”
In pool play at Galva, the Trojans defeated Solomon, 15-5, 15-7, and Little River, 17-15, 15-8, then needed three emotional games to beat MCAA rival Hesston, 9-15, 15-11, 15-5.
“The Hesston match felt like a championship match,” Burton said. “The girls played hard and you could tell they put a lot into that match. They really wanted that one. We did everything well that game-we served well, we passed well.”
The Trojans found themselves with their hands full again against Canton-Galva in the semifinals. Led by the power hitting of Trista Kerr, a 5-10 senior, the Eagles dominated the first game en route to the win.
But Hillsboro stepped up its performance in the second and third games to win the match.
“We had spent a lot of our emotional and physical energy into the Hesston match,” Burton said. “In the second and third game, we really figured out that we needed to get up and block the ball and help our back row out. I was proud of them for coming back.”
For the tournament, the Trojans served with 90.8 percent accuracy. Jenna Jost was a perfect 26-for-26 and Holly Lindsay was 54-of-56 to lead the way.
Shannon Kroeker led the Trojan attack with 22 kills and Robyn Penner added 21.
Defensively, the Trojans struggled on serve-receives with a 69.1 success rate.
“Overall, they had some really hard, top-spin servers at the tournament,” Burton said. “We struggled a little bit with it.”
Kroeker led the team with 32 blocks and nine stuffs and Jill Hein added 24 blocks with nine kills.
Kroeker was successful on 86 of 94 set attempts and Lindsay on 144 of 165.
Penner, Hein and Andrea Peachey were named to the all-tournament team along with Kerr and Megan Ek from Canton-Galva, Annie Graber and Staci Whitcomb from Moundridge, Anne Gunden and Ashley Wray from Hesston, Ashley Weiss and Shelly Unruh of Chase County, and Megan Kroeker from Solomon.
Peabody-Burns also participated in the tournament, losing all three games in pool play: to Moundridge, 15-2, 15-0; to Canton-Galva, 15-6, 15-1; and to Chase County, 15-13, 15-8.
Ellinwood-When they played their best, they beat the best.
Hillsboro split a pair of matches Tuesday against previously undefeated Ellinwood, a tall and talented MCAA Mid Division rival.
“They are the toughest team we’ve seen so far this year,” said coach Collette Burton.
It appeared at first the Eagles also were the better team. They won the first match in straight games, 15-10, 15-10, and then won the first game of the second match, 17-15.
But Hillsboro did not fold. On a night when every point was hard-earned-the first game of the second match saw 37 service changes-the Trojans stepped up their game one more notch to win the last two games of the evening by convincing margins, 15-7, 15-6.
“We were having a few mental errors the first match-like not paying attention to what the hitter was going to do and we missed picking up a lot of tips,” Burton said. “In the second match we came out and played really hard.”
Between matches, Burton said she talked to her team about some technical adjustments.
“I just talked about the mental errors we made and how our hitters were not getting far enough outside, and setters not setting the ball far enough outside,” she said. “We were getting way too far under the ball on our hits, which is going to throw the ball out.”
The tide seemed to turn for Hillsboro midway through the second game. With the score tied 7-7, Holly Lindsay served for seven straight points-the longest run of the night for the Trojans-to give Hillsboro a 14-7 advantage. Andrea Peachey served the final and winning point after the Trojans forced a side out.
The Trojans improved their success ratio from the first match to the second in serving (93.8 from 87.8), attacking (86.4 from 75.7) and setting (94 from 90.2). They also increased their blocks from 15 to 32.
For the night, Shannon Kroeker was a perfect 28-for-28 serving and Jenna Jost was 17-for-17. Lindsay was 26-of-27.
Kroeker was successful on 89-of-95 setting opportunities while Lindsay went 77-of-84.
Andrea Peachey led the team in kills with 11, followed by Jill Hein with 10 and Kroeker with nine. Hein added a team-leading seven stuffs.
Peachey also contributed 25 digs and Hein added 19.
Coming-The Trojans returned to MCAA play Tuesday night in Wichita against Collegiate. They will take on Lyons in Brown Gymnasium next Tuesday with matches beginning at 5 p.m.