Hillsboro volleyball survives state pool play with a 2-1 record; bracket play set for Saturday

The Hillsboro volleyball team survived a talent-loaded pool Friday, qualifying for bracket play on Saturday with a 2-1 record at the Class 3A state tournament in Emporia?s White Auditorium.

State seedings are based on won-loss records, but Hillsboro?s four-team pool included Silver Lake, seeded sixth at 30-9 but ranked No. 1 Class 3A by the Kansas Volleyball Association on the strength of its schedule, the second seeded and No. 2 ranked Trojans at 36-3 and No. 3 seeded and fourth-ranked Hesston at 35-3.

Hillsboro opened against unranked and seventh-seeded Seneca-Nemaha Central (32-11), and claimed a solid 25-19, 25-16 win. Hillsboro trailed early in the first set, but a kill by Alex Ratzlaff tied the set for the final time at 18-18. Julie Sinclair stepped in and served for six straight points to lead the Trojans to the six-point win. In Set 2, Hillsboro trailed only 0-1 and slowly built its nine-point lead at the end.

The Trojans started slowly against Silver Lake, and the Eagles showed why they are ranked No. 1 in the state, humbling the Trojans in the first set, 25-7. Hillsboro rebounded in the second set and led 15-10 midway through. But Silver Lake reeled off seven straight points to take the lead. Hillsboro never recovered from that surge and dropped the set and game with a 25-22 loss to the Eagles.

The loss meant Hillsboro needed a win over league rival Hesston to extend its season another day. The Swathers led early in the first set, but the Trojan rallied to tie the score at 10-10 and never trailed again on the way to a 25-15 win. In the second set, Hillsboro took its first lead at 5-4 and never surrendered it on the way to a 25-18 victory.

Silver Lake won the pool with a 3-0 record, and Hillsboro will take the runner-up spot in bracket play at 2-1. The Trojans will face top-seeded Douglass, who came in at 36-2 and swept all three of its matches in the other pool. Wellsville, the No. 4 seed at 35-5, was the runner-up and will take on Silver Lake in the semifinals, which begin at 2 p.m. Saturday.

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