Trojans 6th at SES with 2-3 record

Don Ratzlaff / Free Press<p>Hillsboro sophomore Taylor Helmer drops to her knees to save a set opportunity during the team?s win over Moundridge in the consolation semifinals at Southeast of Saline. The Trojans went 2-3 for the day, finishing sixth among eight teams.

The need to quickly develop talent to replace six senior contributors from last year, plus its penchant to schedule challenging competition, caught up with the Hillsboro volleyball team Satur?day at the Southeast of Saline Invita?tional.

The Trojans came in ranked No. 3 in Class 3A and was returning as the two-time defending tournament champion, but this time the team found itself looking oddly up the ladder at the end of the day.

Hillsboro finished sixth with a 2-3 record?ending not only its title streak at Southeast of Saline, but also its streak of advancing to the championship bracket in 17 consecutive regular-season tournaments dating back to 2010.

The Trojans struggled from the start, losing in pool play to (Class 4A) Concordia, 25-23, 21-25, 17-25, slipping past (5A) Salina South, 25-23, 20-25, 25-21, then being swept by (3A) Beloit, 18-25, 15-25.

?The competition was very tough,? coach Sandy Arnold said, noting that three of the four teams in their pool advanced to the championship bracket.

Their 1-2 pool record put the Trojans into the consolation semifinals, where they defeated (2A) Moundridge, 25-23, 25-21, before losing to (No. 8 in 3A) SES in the fifth-place match, 21-25, 16-25.

Emporia, ranked No. 10 in 5A, went on to win the tournament title by defeating Beloit. The field also included Abilene, ranked third in 4A-Div. 1, who defeated Concordia for third place.

?It was definitely good competition for us, and hopefully that will help us,? Arnold said. ?But when you?re young and playing competition like that, you can?t make mistakes. We make a lot of mistakes right now.?

Arnold said her young squad needs to grow in regard to enthusiasm and excitement, not just skills.

?I think it?s just getting used to the new people we?re playing with,? she said. ?But it doesn?t really matter?when somebody does something good, we need to get fired up. Not only does that help your team, but a lot of times it deflates the other team. We need to use that to our advantage a little bit more.?

Halstead double dual?After a week in the gym working on skills, the Tro?jans split a pair of matches at Halstead Sept. 8.

Douglass got a measure of revenge against the Trojans in a rematch of state tournament foes from last fall. The Bulldogs swept Hillsboro, 25-17, 26-24.

Hillsboro did sweep Pratt in a league match, 28-26, 25-13, to raise its season record to 5-2.

?There were some things that improved, but we?re still not where we need to be,? coach Sandy Arnold said of her team?s progress. ?We served spots pretty well against Pratt, and that helped.

?We just need to be able to attack, and we did not attack as well against Douglass,? she added. ?They ran a pretty fast offense, and we didn?t get our block out there as quickly as we should have or got enough touches on it.?

Coming?The road doesn?t get easier for the 7-5 Trojans this week. They were to take on Hesston and Kingman, two of the top teams in the Central Kansas League, Tuesday at Hesston.

Hillsboro will host its first competition at home with a CKL triangular against Hoisington and Lyons. Matches begin a 5 p.m.

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