Hillsboro verified its No. 1 seed at the Class 3A sub-state volleyball tournament in Marion Saturday, winning all three of its matches in two-game sweeps to secure a berth at the state tournament Friday in Salina?s Bicentennial Center.
The Trojans, now 34-6 for the season, claimed the tournament title?and a bit of revenge?by beating Halstead in the finals, 25-21, 25-10 with a dominant performance in Game 2.
?It was a really good day,? coach Sandy Arnold said. ?I had several players step up and play some really good volleyball right when we needed it. I also felt like we did a good job of keeping our poise in a couple of situations.?
Halstead, the No. 3 seed, had beaten the Trojans only 11 days earlier to slip past them for second place in the Central Kansas League.
The Dragons led for much of Game 1 Saturday, and as late as 20-19, before Addie Lackey served four straight points to put the Trojans ahead, 24-20.
With Lackey serving to start Game 2, the Trojans jumped to a 3-0 lead and never trailed. Led by the thunderous hits of junior Tena Loewen, with great complementary play from both the front and back rows, Hillsboro blazed a clear trail to the title with a 15-point spread in Game 2.
?We were clicking on all cylinders on our side,? Arnold said of the second game. ?I thought our serving pretty much ate them up. That?s what we needed to start with because that takes them out of their game, and allows us to do more fun stuff on our side.?
To get to the finals, the Trojans defeated No. 8 seeded Marion, 25-15, 25-21, in the first round. After the Warriors scored the initial point, the Trojans never trailed again in Game 1.
Game 2 was a close match with Marion leading as late as 11-10. The Warriors pulled as close as 24-21 near the end before Loewen ended the match with a decisive kill.
With that victory secured, the Trojans faced a four-hour wait until start of their semifinals match against No. 4 Sacred Heart, who had defeated Sedgwick.
When the Trojans finally took the court, they got off to a sluggish start. Sacred Heart led from the start before Hillsboro took its first lead at 21-20 on an ace serve by Lackey?and then stayed ahead until a final kill by Krista Reimer.
?It took us a little bit, but I was very proud of the way they were poised,? Arnold said of her team.
?I called a timeout (with a 9-3 deficit) and told them to take a deep breath and just keeping chopping wood,? she added. ?They did really well with that. When you start coming back like we did, it starts to affect the other team a little bit.?
In Game 2, the Trojans then scored the first six points with Lackey serving, and went on to qualify for the finals with a relatively comfortable, 25-17, victory for the two-game sweep.
Looking to state?For seniors Krista Reimer, Callie Serene, Sammy Koons and Lindsey Brazil, this will be the fourth trip to Salina in four years. In each of the three previous trips, Hills?boro did not survive pool play.
That disappointment should provide motivation, especially for starters Reimer and Serene, as well as junior Tena Loewen, who also played at state the two previous years.
?I know Tena in particular is tired of getting there and not moving on,? Arnold said. ?I think we?re going to change that this year?that?s our mentality.?
Hillsboro, the No. 4 seed at 34-6, will open at 9:30 a.m. against No. 5 Douglass (26-13), whom the Trojans defeated early in the season. Hillsboro will take the court again at 11:30 a.m. to play No. 8 Wellsville (22-16), then will complete pool play against No. 1 ranked Hoisington (37-3).
The top two teams from that pool will advance to the semifinals Saturday, which begin at 10 a.m.
The teams in the other pool are No. 2 seed Cherokee-South?east (35-5), No. 3 seed Phillips?burg (34-6), No. 6 Marysville (26-14) and No. 7 Nemaha Valley (23-16).
?I firmly believe we can move on to Saturday and I don?t want them to think any other way,? said Arnold, who has made the trip to Salina in six of her eight years at the Trojan helm.