Hoisington entered the day with a 25-1 record, a No. 1 seed in the tournament and a No. 1 ranking in Class 3A. Hillsboro, at 22-4, was the No. 2 seed. One of the Trojans? losses was a two-game sweep by Hoisington Sept. 25.
?I think we gained a lot of confidence just in that match itself,? Arnold said of the rematch on Saturday. ?As the day went on, our confidence rose. I guess if there?s a good time to be playing your best volleyball, this is the time.?
After wading through pool play with three straight two-game matches, then defeating Conway Springs in two games in the semifinals, the Trojans finally succumbed to the Cardinals, 21-25, 25-22, 21-25.
?I thought we blocked fairly well, especially the second match,? Arnold said. ?That seemed to shut them down and frustrate them. We also put some balls down on them and they had a hard time picking those up.
?So our defense, I thought, played well.?
The Trojans dug a hole for themselves in the deciding third game by allowing a couple of Hoisington scoring runs in the early going.
?Then I thought we had some momentum building?and we got a couple of calls that didn?t go our way,? Arnold said. ?But that?s beside the point because you have to be in it to start with.
?As good a day as we had, I think that just raised the kids? expectations as much as mine. As well as we played, I really thought we had it. We let things slip away.?
In pool play, the Trojans defeated Sterling (25-14, 25-21), Marion (25-19, 25-15) and Oskaloosa (25-23, 25-20).
?I thought we steadily got better,? Arnold said about her team?s dip in the pool. ?The first match of our morning always seems to be a little shaky for us.
?And Marion always worries me because it?s a rivalry. They?ve improved a bunch this year, and so you never know how that one is going to go. We talked about that one a lot.?
Oskaloosa, making its first appearance at the Trojan Invita?tional, came in as the No. 3 seed at 25-5. They were ranked ninth in the latest coaches? poll for Class 3A, while the Trojans were ranked eighth.
?I thought we played pretty well against Oskaloosa,? Arnold said. ?We rose to that challenge because we knew they were going to be a team to contend with. They had a couple of girls who were good hitters, good hitters servers.?
Conway Springs, a perennial power in volleyball, came in as the No. 4 seed with an 18-12 mark this season. Hillsboro prevailed in two games, 25-22, 25-23.
?Conway has a strong tradition, so you never want to say, ?Well, they?re down this year,?? Arnold said. ?I know how tradition can pull you through things.
?But they?re kind of young. They had some good hitters, and we tried to serve in a way that would keep the ball away from those hitters. We do that in every match, but we thought we had an advantage because they?re blockers weren?t as tall.
?Along as we were pass-set-hitting, we thought we could get over the block and put it down. Dakota (Kaufman) and Amy (Neufeld) both did a good job at that, and so did Chelsea (Bebermeyer). Even the girls that don?t hit as much were having a successful day hitting.?
The 4-1 record for the day boosted the Trojans? season mark to 26-5 for the season.
Hillsboro quad?The Trojans tuned up for their weekend tournament with a pad of solid league wins Tuesday on their home court.
In a critical matchup, Hills?boro came back from a Game 1 loss to defeat rival Hesston in three games, 23-25, 25-17. 25-22.
This match, the only one that counts toward the league standings, marked the fifth time the two teams have met this season. Hesston won the first two matches, but Hillsboro has won the past three.
After getting past Hesston, the Trojans knocked off Smoky Valley (25-22, 25-20) to improve their league mark to 7-1.
Coming?Hillsboro was scheduled to play its final three league and regular-season matches Tuesday at Collegiate. In addition to the home team, Hillsboro will battle Ellinwood and Sterling.
On Saturday, the Trojans will compete for a state berth at the sub-state tournament at Southeast of Saline.
Arnold said her team likely will come in as the No. 3 seed in a field that includes two other top-10 teams in Class 3A: top ranked Hoisington and No. 3 ranked Sacred Heart.
?Obviously it?s going to be a tough sub-state,? Arnold said. ?But as I say to the girls, if you want to be the best you have to beat the best?we just have to do it right away.?
Judging by their play at the Trojan Invitational, Arnold feels her team is peaking at the right time.
?It?s been a year where I didn?t know what to expect, to where now I have high expectations for them?and the girls do to,? Arnold said. ?We?re going to try to ride this and meet these expectations.?
Also in the field at Southeast of Saline are Ellinwood, Ellsworth, Lyons and Marion.