Hillsboro opens with 5-0 run to MCAA preseason tourney title

The Hillsboro High School volleyball team trounced every opponent–though not all comers–at the sixth annual Mid Central Activities Association pre-season volleyball tournament in Marion Saturday, defeating Lyons (25-7, 25-21), Collegiate (25-22, 25-20), Ellinwood (25-19, 25-21) and Hesston (25-21, 25-20) without dropping a single game to reach the championship round. Haven won a game, but the Trojans won the match (25-14, 16-25, 25-23) on a thunderous spike by Dakota Kaufman.

Haven more than made a match of it after Hillsboro steamrolled the Wildcats in the first game of the championship series. With the second game knotted at 8-all, and then 12-all, and then 16-all, Haven rattled off nine consecutive points, robbing Hillsboro of its wave of momentum, which had swelled by the hour throughout the day as the Trojans supporters turned out in larger numbers for each successive match. The crowd came to a crescendo in the third game?a back-and-forth battle that saw only one lead change. Hillsboro trailed from the outset and seemed to have seized the advantage, 18-17, on what appeared to be an ace by Cassie Kroeker. But Kroeker's serve was overturned, the point awarded to Haven, and the lead remained in the Wildcat grasp until Kaufman buried the 22-22 strike, forcing a Haven timeout.

Sharp service from Tiffany Rooker gave the Trojans the next two points, and Hillsboro went back to Kaufman to finish it off. And finish it she did, hammering an overpowering drive directly at Haven libero Paula Stucky, who could not make the play and was perhaps fortunate to find all of her limbs still attached and functioning as normal after she picked herself up.

Marion's heavy hitters, meanwhile, had a less successful start to their season, picking up pool play losses against Ellinwood (9-25, 19-25) and Hoisington (12-25, 13-25) without starting middle hitter Whitney Gordon, who was sidelined by illness. Marion lost an afternoon contest against Sterling (25-16, 21-25, 15-25), but the Warriors bounced back with wins over Halstead (25-22, 25-22) and Lyons (25-16, 25-13) to finish 2-3 for the day.

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