Good Going: HHS headed back to state

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HHSvbRemDakota540.jpg

With determined defense and precise passing?along with her usual heavy hitting?Dakota Kaufman contributed greatly to Hillsboro?s victories at Sedgwick.

Don Ratzlaff / Free Press

Going in to Saturday?s Class 3A sub-state volleyball tournament at Sedgwick, Hillsboro coach Sandy Arnold felt if her team could maintain focus and avoid illness, the Trojans would have a good shot at securing a second straight state tournament berth.

Arnold got her wish. With a full and mostly health roster, plus a take-care-of-business attitude on the court, Hillsboro won its three matches in the minimum six games.

The climax was a resounding 25-12, 25-22 win over No. 1 seeded Remington Saturday evening.

Anything even close to resembling a lapse in focus occurred in Game 2 of the championship match when the Trojans saw an early 13-3 lead dwindle to one point as late as 23-22.

?Honestly, I don?t know that I ever felt like we were going to lose it, but we have a couple of weak rotations and we just got stuck in one,? coach Sandy Arnold said. ?So we?re going to work this week on some different options out of that.

?The more you give the other team the idea they can compete with you, the harder it gets sometimes,? she added.

?The thing I was really glad about was that we kept attacking, even though it was close. I didn?t think they could stop us if we were attacking.?

It could be argued that the Trojans? toughest matchup came in the semifinals against their intra-county rivals, Marion. The Trojans ended up posting a 25-19, 25-19 victory, but the final margin turned out in both games to be the biggest margin between them.

In Game 1, Marion led as late as 11-10 before a serving ace by Hillsboro?s Tara Heinrichs tied the game for the last time at 11. Even so, the Warriors were as close as one point at 18-17 before the Trojans slowly extended the lead to six at the end.

In Game 2, Hillsboro maintained a small lead all the way through, but never more than five points on two occasions midway through.

In its opening match of the tournament, Hillsboro easily dispatched of No. 8 Lyons, 25-14, 25-13.

?I thought that we played very steady most of the day,? Arnold said. ?We focused on what we needed to do against every team. We had a plan for Lyons, we had a plan for Marion and we had a plan for Reming?ton. It wasn?t ?let?s go out and see what happens.?

?We really talked and worked on things in practice last week that we thought needed to be improved for us to move on,? she added. ?That was big for us.?

The Trojans got solid contributions from every player, led by the power hitting of senior Dakota Kaufman. Her thunderous hits were complemented by the good serving, passing and defense of her teammates.

When Hillsboro finally put away the 25th and final point against Remington, the team celebrated its state tournament berth?but in a measured way.

?I thought it was a completely different reaction than last year,? Arnold said. ?Last year, it was ?wow, we?re going to state.? This year, it was a great reaction because we won, but it wasn?t the same. Dakota told me afterward, ?This is great, but we?re still hungry.??

That?s the attitude Arnold said she was hoping for.

?We?ve been talking a lot about climbing the mountain this year,? she said. ?I think they felt like this was just one more accomplishment on the way to where we want to go. I hope we can prove that this weekend.?

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Chassidy Carlson and Whitney Gordon of Marion try to block Hillsboro hitter Franny Gottsch during their semifinals match.

Don Ratzlaff / Free Press

 

Hillsboro, with a record of 29-8, will enter the Salina?s Bicentennial Centre on Friday morning as the No. 6 seed. The Trojans will open pool play at 9:30 against No. 3 Phillipsburg (37-2). They will follow immediately with a matchup against their league rivals, No. 2 seeded Wichita Collegiate (35-1). At about 1:30 p.m., Hillsboro will play No. 7 Eureka (30-9).

Hillsboro and Collegiate split their two matches this season.

The teams in the other pool are No. 1 Southwestern Heights (41-1), No. 4 Central Heights (26-4), No. 5 Atchison County Community (36-4) and No. 8 Frontenac (20-14).

?It?s going to be tough, it doesn?t matter what pool you?re in,? Arnold said. ?You?re getting the cream of the crop when you go to the state tournament.

?There won?t be time for any lulls, there won?t be time for letting teams take you to three games or any mental lapses,? she added. ?We just have to be ready because they?re going to come ready to play.?

Returning largely the same team that battled nerves and went 1-2 in pool play last year, Arnold said she believes her current team will step onto the court with a lot more confidence.

?I hope the experience of these kids from last year will play a big part in that,? she said.

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