Hillsboro wins Trojan Invite

Don Ratzlaff / Free Press<p>Hillsboro?s Sarah Jost (17) and Alex Ratzlaff (16) go for the block against Chapman in pool play during the Trojan Invitational. Hillsboro swept the field with a 5-0 record and to win the school?s fourth consecutive home tournament title.

The right Hillsboro volleyball team showed up Saturday for the Trojan Invita?tional.

The sometimes inconsistent Trojans lived up to their potential with a five-game sweep that earned them the tournament championship for the fourth consecutive year.

?I thought we played well,?coach Sandy Arnold said. ?Probably more important than anything, I felt like we grew a lot in our character. We had some teams challenge us and we stayed with it, we didn?t get shook. I was pretty pleased with that.?

Arnold had reason to wonder going in to Saturday. Her Trojans had come off a second-place finish at the McPher?son tournament the previous Saturday only to lose Tuesday to Haven, a 10-21 team, in the league finale.

Beyond that, Hillsboro entered the Trojan Invita?tional as the fourth seed with an 18-12 record?the most losses at this point in the season since 2004.

But Hillsboro was focused from the start, handling all three teams in pool play: Chapman (No. 8 at 6-20), 25-11, 25-18; Minneapolis (No. 5 at 14-13), 25-18, 25-15, and No. 1 seeded Rock Creek (27-4) 20-25, 25-23, 25-12.

In the championship bracket semifinals, Hills?boro defeated Augusta in straight sets?but not without a battle. The Trojans prevailed in a marathon first set, 33-31, before earning a berth in the championship game with a 25-21 win in Set 2.

?It was crazy,? Arnold said of the first set. ?We ran out of substitutions, we had people playing back row who weren?t used to playing back row. I think we were out of order one time.

?It was wild, but again, that was one of those situations where the girls handled it?that?s real pressure when you go back and forth like that.?

In the finals, Hillsboro swept Circle, the No. 2 seed, 26-24, 25-21.

?We served well,? Arnold said. ?I still think that?s a huge key to any offense and defense. And as long as we attack the ball, we are a much better team. But you have to play good defense and have to pass well for that to happen.?

Beyond the strategic consistency she witnessed on Saturday, Arnold said her team showed inner growth, too.

?I saw a real genuine enthusiasm and desire out there that I?ve been trying to get the kids to show me,? she said. ?I think they had it, but I think they were just so overwhelmed with the whole level of varsity. Some of these girls were playing C team a year ago.

?I think maybe they?re starting to feel like they belong in that varsity role.?

Coming?Hillsboro was to finish regular-season play Tuesday with a home triangular against Hutch Trinity (16-10) and Sedgwick (15-14).

The Trojans will be looking for an eighth consecutive state tournament berth when they compete at sub-state Saturday in Mound?ridge.

Heading the eight-team field is undefeated Central Plains, the No. 1 ranked team in Class 2A. In addition to Hillsboro and the host team, the other five schools are Canton-Galva, Berean Academy, Ellinwood, Inman and Little River.

Seedings will be released Wednesday and will be posted on hillsborofree?press.com.

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