The Hillsboro volleyball team, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, made the long trip to Great Bend Thursday to test its skills against two 5A schools?and came home with split results.
The Trojans claimed a 25-14, 25-11 win gainst the home team, then came up short against perennial power Newton, 25-16, 23-25, 25-18.
Coach Sandy Arnold said her team played ?fairly well? against Great Bend.
?We served aggressively and we hit the ball pretty well,? she sad.
But the marque game would be against the Railers, a team with both size and skill that came in with a 13-5 record.
?One of the things about Newton that I knew going in is that we were going to get blocked, and it was going to be a question of how we responded to that,? Arnold said.
?I think the first game we were pretty shook up by their serving, too. They?re smart, they know what?s going on. Toward the end of the first game, we made some plays that I thought gave us some confidence that we can play with these guys.?
The Trojans parlayed that confidence into a two-point victory in Game 2, setting up a deciding third game. It was close early, but about midway through, Newton stretched its lead to around six points and the Trojans couldn?t overcome it down the stretch.
Even so, Arnold was pleased with her team?s performance.
?I felt like we played pretty good defense, but when you?re playing defense all the time you?re not attacking,? she said.
Arnold said the experience should help her team down the home stretch and into the post-season.
?I cannot say anything bad about our effort,? she said. ?We hustled, we tried some different things and we reacted better. If we could just play every?body like we played against Newton, we?d be fine.?
Halstead?The Trojans clinched at least a tie for the Central Kansas League title last Tuesday by defeating Sterling and Hesston at a triangular in Sterling.
Hillsboro more than handled the host team, 25-14, 25-9, then rose to the challenge of beating Hesston (18-7) for the fifth time this season, 25-22, 16-25, 25-18.
?There?s no doubt Tuesday night was a big night in the league for us,? coach Sandy Arnold said.
?When you?ve played a team four times and you know you can beat them because you?ve proved that, the added pressure of this match being the only one that counts for league adds something to it.
?(The Swathers) were on a very emotional high because they wanted to beat us very much,? she added. ?So for us to handle the adrenaline and emotion that they had, and to stop it, I just felt very proud of the girls for that.?
Coming?Hillsboro (26-2) was scheduled to finish league play Tuesday at Halstead, taking on the Dragons and Nickerson.
?This will be the third time we?ve played Halstead, and they have improved,? coach Sandy Arnold said. ?Some of their less experienced girls are starting to step up.
?There?s no way we can go in thinking it will be easy.?
Hillsboro will defend its home territory Saturday at the annual Trojan Invitational.
Joining them in the eight-team field will be Chapman, Circle, Conway Springs, Minneapolis, Rock Creek, Sterling and Augusta.
?I?m excited especially to see some of these different teams,? Arnold said. ?All these teams will be new to us except for Sterling, and that?s really good.?
Pool play begins at 9 a.m.