ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Coming off an emotional championship at the preseason league tournament three days earlier, the Hillsboro volleyball team did not look particularly sharp at a quadrangular last Tuesday in Lyons, according to coach Sandy Arnold.
Still, after her team swept each of its opponents-Goessel, Lyons and Claflin-in the minimum two games, she wasn’t exactly distraught about it.
“We didn’t play with near the intensity and focus I saw on Saturday-and I was disappointed in that,” Arnold said.
“But don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to be where we are.”
The Trojans are ranked No. 1 in Class 3A by the Kansas Volleyball Association with an 8-0 start to the season.
Hillsboro first played Goessel, who defeated the Trojans at Lyons a year ago and is ranked sixth in Class 1A this season. Hillsboro prevailed, 25-17, 25-19.
“Goessel has a good hitter (6-feet-1-inch senior Kory Hiebert), but they were having a hard time getting the ball to her,” Arnold said. “I don’t think she affected us that much. But I was glad it was their first showing (of the season) because I’m sure they will improve.”
Arnold said she reminded her veteran squad about last year’s loss to the Bluebirds.
“I told them: ‘Look, you need to be ready because they have some good players and they’re a team to be watching. This is probably your only chance to get them back because we probably won’t play them again.'”
Against Lyons, which placed sixth in Saturday’s league tournament after graduating key players from last season’s state-tournament team, Hillsboro posted a 25-18, 25-21 victory.
“Lyons has some good players, and I’ll never count them out because of what they did to us last year, coming on strong at the end,” Arnold said, referring to her team’s loss to the Lions in the sub-state finals.
In Tuesday’s finale against Claflin, the Trojan coach thought her team played its most energized volleyball of the night. That match ended 25-16, 25-14.
“I had told them we needed to pick up the pace,” she said. “That one went a little better.”