It looked to be a face-off Thursday between two volleyball giants from different kingdoms, but when the dust cleared the giant from the bigger kingdom prevailed.
The Newton Railers, coming into Brown Gymnasium at 26-1 and ranked third in Class 5A, ended the upset aspirations of Hillsboro, coming in at 24-4 and ranked fourth in Class 3A, in straight sets, 25-22, 25-20.
The Trojans trailed in Game 1 by as much as 16-10 before battling back to a 22-22 tie. But Newton managed the final three points for the win.
Game 2 was close until the end. The Trojans were still with?in striking distance, trailing 21-19, when a passing error by HHS seemed to swing the momentum to the Railers.
?I have to say I was fairly pleased with our effort against Newton,? coach Sandy Arnold said.
?We did come out with some fire and some confidence. Just a couple of things here and there, and I think we would have won the first one. We?ve got to find those little things, and get it done.?
Arnold had mixed emotions about her team?s opening match against Great Bend, a 5A school with a sub-par record. The Trojans looked sharp in the opening game, posting a 25-13 victory, but struggled to close out the Panthers in Game 2, 27-25.
?The second game I was not very pleased,? Arnold said. ?I don?t know if we felt the first game was easy so we kind of backed off a little bit, or what. I was a little disappointed in that regard.?
Arnold said she never likes to lose, but a loss to a team like Newton still has benefits for her team.
?I would much rather learn to play competitively against a tough team than go beat up on somebody that?s not going to give us a whole lot of competition,? she said. ?It really doesn?t help your record down the road. It may put you in a higher (tournament) seed, but you still have to beat the team they put you up against.
?Sometimes an eight or seven seed that comes out of a tough league can kick you right out of there.?
Arnold said the road ahead for the Trojans won?t get much easier.
?Some people see us as a giant, but I don?t look at us that way,? she said. ?I look at us facing a lot of giants ourselves.?
Halstead double dual?The Trojans tuned up for their showdown with Newton by sweeping both league matches in an Oct. 4 double dual in Halstead. Hills?boro defeated Sterling, 25-12, 25-13, then escaped with their fourth victory over Hesston this season, 17-25, 25-17, 25-22.
?I was a little disappointed in the second game against Ster?ling,? coach Sandy Arnold said. ?We had to play catch-up the whole way against Sterling the second game. They were ahead of us 7-3. It was tied at 21 before we got ahead.?
Arnold said her team was aware that beating a team four times in the same season is challenging. Arnold thought Hesston got a boost with the return of Sam Short in the Swather lineup after an injury.
?More than anything, I think she gave them some confidence they were missing, being another experienced player.?
Arnold said her team didn?t serve or pass particularly well in the match.
?When your serving and passing go down, it just doesn?t work very well,? she said.
?I think they know that everything is a battle, especially in volleyball. You just can?t count anybody out. Until you have two more points than the other team at the end of the game, it isn?t over.
?Hopefully, we gained some mental toughness because we didn?t play our best and we still pulled through.?
Coming?The Trojans (6-1, 24-4) were scheduled to play Tuesday at Nick?erson against the Pan?thers (1-6, 10-18) and Halstead (6-1, 25-8) in a couple of important league matches.
On Saturday, the team will host the Trojan Invitational. Joining HHS in the field of eight teams are Chapman, Circle, Conway Springs, Minneapolis, Pratt, Rock Creek and Sterling.
Pool play begins at 9 a.m.