The Hillsboro volleyball team stepped away from familiar foes Thursday, but still came away with familiar results: wins.
The Trojans traveled to Council Grove, where they defeated Herington, 25-16, 25-12, and the home team, 25-21, 25-22, to improve to 12-1 for the year.
The two matches were competitive contrasts. Hillsboro easily handled Herington despite not being at the top of its game, while Council Grove proved to be a stiff test.
?I didn?t think we were as enthusiastic or aggressive as we should have been,? coach Sandy Arnold said about the Herington match. ?But we did our job and got the W, and sometimes Ws aren?t always pretty.?
In the nightcap, Hillsboro was back in sync against Council Grove?and needed to be.
?Council Grove was incredibly scrappy,? Arnold said. ?They would not let the ball hit the floor. We tried to throw a variety of attacks at them, and it seemed like they picked up everything.
?We had some really long rallies,? she added. ?I thought our girls did a good job of hustling after balls and keeping the rallies going also.?
Game 2 was especially tight. The Trojans would make occasional runs only to have the Braves pull even. The final tie was 22-22 before Callie Serene served for Hills?boro?s final three points.
Arnold said seeing new opponents was good for her team.
?By stepping away from the league, you see a variety of teams and styles,? she said. ?We?re going to face teams that are scrappy. Now we know what we need to work on so the next time we see somebody like that we know what to do.
?It?s a learning experience and we?re going to treat it that way.?
At Hillsboro?Trojan fans got their money?s worth at the home opener last Tuesday, as Hillsboro extended both of its matches to the maximum three games.
When it was over, the Trojans had claimed an overtime, come-from-behind victory against Douglass, 25-14, 20-25, 29-27, and suffered their first loss of the season against a strong Hesston team, 21-25, 25-21, 20-25.
?We tried to make it exciting for the home crowd,? coach Sandy Arnold said in jest.
Given the way the Trojans dominated Douglass in Game 1 of the opening match, it appeared HHS would tame the Bulldogs easily. But many of the early mistakes the visitors were making disappeared in games 2 and 3.
In the deciding third game, HHS took an early lead, but near the wire, the Trojans had their backs to the wall at 21-24. Led by the hitting of Tena Loewen, HHS rallied for a 24-24 tie.
As the game extended beyond 25 points, both teams were one point away from victory and from defeat as the scoring went back and forth.
?I told them all night long that they needed to forget the defensive philosophy of basketball?that defense wins games,? Arnold said of her players. ?You have to attack in volleyball or else you?re going to be in trouble. I felt the times we slipped, we weren?t attacking and were allowing them to attack at us.
?I was really proud of the girls for hanging on, because there were a couple times when it looked a little scary. If we can play with that kind of confidence down the stretch, that says a lot for our young team.?
Against Hesston, 11-1 coming into the match, the Trojans faced not only a traditional rival, but an experienced team led by Dominique Chew, one of the best hitters in the state.
Arnold said she was disappointed by the way her team responded in the opening game.
?I felt for the first time they showed they were defeated before the game was over,? she said. ?There wasn?t as much effort as I was used to seeing in this group so far.?
To their credit, the Trojans picked up the pace, taking Game 2 and sending the match to the decisive third game.
A slow start in Game 3 put Hillsboro in an early hole the Trojans could not overcome in the end.
?I do think my girls were tired?and I hate to say that out loud,? Arnold said. ?But I thought we competed with Hesston. They have a lot of seniors and a lot of girls with significant experience.
?I don?t think we played our best, but knowing that we competed well with a team that?s seasoned makes me feel better. If we had to lose, at least we lost to a team that is good.?
Absorbing that first loss after a 10-0 start did have a silver lining, Arnold said.
?The first loss is out of the way, and we don?t have to hear about the undefeated thing anymore,? Arnold said she told the team afterward. ?Let?s just learn from it and move on, and not worry about (being undefeated) anymore.
?I think we can beat Hesston,? she added. ?We?re looking forward to playing them again.?
Coming?The Trojans were expected to open league play Tuesday with a match at Haven against the Wildcats. They also were to play non-league foe Cheney.
Next Tuesday, Sept. 21, Hills?boro will host Central Kansas League foes Pratt and Kingman, starting at 5 p.m. HHS defeated Pratt in the semifinals of the CKL preseason tournament earlier this season and will meet Kingman for the first time.