HHS volleyball up and down at Canton-Galva tourney

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Hillsboro volleyball coach Tina King was looking forward to the Canton-Galva Invitational on Saturday as a way to measure her team’s consistency of play.

Even a Richter scale would have had trouble measuring the extremes.

Her No. 5-seeded Trojans were a thundering herd in their opening match, battling back against a tough Moundridge squad, seeded fourth, for a dramatic 25-23, 23-25, 15-13 win.

With no chance to rest between matches, the Trojans faced off against the No. 1 seed, Solomon, led by Division I prospect Megan Kroeker, an agile 6-3 senior. The Gorillas came into the tournament with a sparkling 14-1 mark.

In the first game, the Trojans hardly registered a tremor, losing by a season-worst score of 25-3.

But the Trojans sent shock waves through the Solomon faithful in Game 2 with a convincing 25-18 victory.

In the rubber match, the Trojans dug themselves into an 0-6 hole and never recovered, falling 7-15.

Even with the loss, it appeared the Trojans had positioned themselves to escape pool play for the first time in two tournaments. All they needed was for No. 1 Solomon to take care of Moundridge, and for themselves to take care of Canton-Galva, which came into the tournament with a 1-16 record and had lost their first two pool matches.

Neither happened.

As the Trojans watched from the stands, Moundridge came from behind to beat the No. 1 seed, 20-25, 28-26, 15-8.

By virtue of a points-based tiebreaker, the Trojans were all but eliminated from a berth in bracket play. They would have had to sweep Canton-Galva in two games and hold the Eagles under 10 points.

Apparently, Solomon’s loss was too disappointing and the challenge ahead of them too overwhelming. The Trojans were humbled by a much hungrier Canton-Galva squad in two games, 16-25, 24-26.

“We made their day,” King said of the Eagles. “But whenever you have two teams that are rivals because of their location (15 miles apart), you can always expect a tough game.”

Hesston, playing in the other pool, went on to win the tournament with a two-game sweep of Solomon. Moundridge finished third with win over Little River.

King came away from the tournament with a measure of good feelings, but her suspicions about her team’s consistency were confirmed.

“Basically, I saw what I thought I might see,” King said. “We play up with the good teams, then we come down against the teams we should beat.”

Despite the disappointing finish, King said her team accomplished a lot of positive things.

“I hope they see the bright part of it,” she said. “I mean, we did beat Moundridge. I’ve been here enough years to know that Moundridge is usually the team to beat. We came out and played really well and beat them.

“I also was very pleased with how they played against Solomon, too, with the exception of that first game.”

She said her team has the physical ability to play with anybody.

“It’s definitely mental with these girls,” she said. “They’re hard on themselves, so when they do make mistakes they get down on themselves-and they still don’t realize that the other team knows when you’re down. They’ve got to get through that.”

She said her team needs to forget the loss to Canton-Galva and concentrate on finishing strong as sub-state approaches-and with it the possibility of meeting up with their rivals from Hesston once more.

“I told them we need to concentrate on Halstead and get those wins,” King said of their Tuesday matchup. “We need to beef up our record for sub-state.

“I’d rather have one of the better records at the end of the season so we can be in the opposite pool from Hesston and meet them in the finals,” she said.

Coming-The Trojans (9-7) were scheduled to take on Halstead Tuesday. A complete report of that match will appear in the Free Press Extra, on newsstands late Thursday afternoon.

Hillsboro’s next-and last-double-dual match of the season will be Oct. 14 against a tough Sterling squad. Matches begin at 5 p.m.

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