The Hillsboro volleyball team ended its season Friday with a 1-2 record in pool play at the Class 3A state tournament at the Bicentennial Center in Salina.
The Trojans? lone victory came in their opening match against seventh-seeded Chero?kee Southeast, 25-23, 25-22.
In both games of that match, the Trojans fell behind early and came back to win. In Game 1, HHS took its first lead at 4-3 and never trailed again, although Cherokee rallied to tie the game at 23. Hillsboro won the last two points on a kill by Tena Loewen followed by a service ace by Callie Serene.
In Game 2, Hillsboro started in an 0-4 hole before pulling even at 8-8. The game remained within a two-point spread in either team?s favor until Hillsboro pushed the margin to 23-20 and maintained that margin at the end.
Buoyed after their strong start, the young Trojans were deflated by No. 3 Atchison County in their second match, 25-15, 25-16. The Tigers, blessed with multiple strong hitters and agile defenders, were clearly a step higher on the ability ladder.
Hillsboro led Game 1 as late as 6-5 before the Tigers slowly but surely pulled away. In Game 2, HHS was down 0-3 at the start, and then as much as 5-12 before rallying to 12-14. But the Tigers went on a 6-0 run to take control.
Hillsboro ended pool play with a 25-18, 25-14 loss to second-seeded and eventual state champion Osage City. Though the final scores were similar to the previous match, the Trojans competed better against the Spartans.
Game 1 was still tied at 11-11 when Osage City went on an 8-1 run midway through, then more or less maintained that gap to the end.
Game 2 followed a similar theme. Hillsboro actually led 13-11 midway through before the Tigers reeled off nine straight points to take control.
Ironically, it was Osage City that went on to win the championship, defeating Atchison County in the finals after losing to them in pool play.
This was the third straight year the eventual 3A champion emerged from Hillsboro?s pool.
?I?m always disappointed to lose,? coach Sandy Arnold said about her team?s tournament stay. ?I thought it was a great experience for the young girls and it was a great culmination for the seniors.?
Arnold said her team worked hard and never stopped fighting.
?We obviously had some lapses in serve receive and some unforced errors,? Arnold said. ?But there were some errors that were forced upon us because of the quality of the other teams. That?s why it?s a state tournament?they?re all at a high level.?
With its effort at Salina, the young Trojan squad finished a remarkable season with a 31-12 record. They should return all but two seniors, Hayley Jirak and Allie Faul, next fall.
?I really wanted (success at state) for those two,? Arnold said. ?I wanted them to reap the reward of what they had worked so hard for. Allie is such a hard worker and so competitive, and Hayley had a great senior season.?
Arnold said the was pleased with how the season unfolded.
?We stretched a lot further than people thought we would, and they should be very proud of that accomplishment,? she said of the girls. ?I?probably didn?t believe we?d win 31 matches this year, so I?m very pleased with that and excited that they got the experience.
?But I also reminded them how difficult it is to get back (to state), and how the things they do from here on out until next season are going to make a big difference.?