The Hillsboro High volleyball team?s first of two forays into ?big school? territory turned out to be a positive experience.
The Trojans won two of three matches at El Dorado Sept. 1., including a 25-12, 25-8 thumping of the host school in the opening match.
Hillsboro followed that with a 25-20, 25-15 win over Mulvane before losing to Buhler in a tight battle, 25-20, 26-24.
El Dorado and Buhler are 5A schools and Mulvane is 4A. The 2-1 outing boosted the Trojans? season record to 5-3.
To fill their schedule and to sharpen their skills, Hillsboro added two competitions against larger schools this season. The second one will be Oct. 8 at Great Bend, with Newton joining the lineup.
The evening at El Dorado couldn?t have started much better.
?We probably played the best match of our short season against El Dorado,? Arnold said. ?We were focused, we were aggressive, we worked together. We were reading each other a whole lot better. Things were just clicking.
?We also served really well, and took them out of their game a lot,? she added. ?I think they really didn?t know what to do when we were serving.?
The highlight in that regard was Candace Weinbrenner?s streak to end Game 2. With HHS leading 14-8, the senior served for 11 straight points, including four aces.
?She was on fire,? Arnold said. ?She?s done that before?she?s one of those who can pick a spot just about anywhere and hit it.?
Arnold felt her team?s intensity dipped a bit for the next match against Mulvane, but she also credited the opponent?s play for a closer contest.
?They were very scrappy,? she said of Mulvane. ?I felt they did a good job hitting balls at us, even though they weren?t perfect balls to hit. Sometimes that causes problems for people because you?re not expecting it, or you don?t know where it?s going.
?So we had to work a little bit in that first game, especially. The second game was a little better. We kind of got over the hump a little bit.?
That win set up the finale against Buhler, who also won matches against Mulvane and El Dorado.
?I don?t want it to be an excuse, but I would venture to say fatigue may have played a part on that one,? Arnold said about the loss. ?That was our eighth match in four days?and it?s not like we haven?t played hard in all of those matches.?
The biggest disappointment for the Trojan coach was that her team could not hold its early lead in Game 2. But the Crusaders had something to do with that.
?Buhler was a very well-coached team, and they were just on fire,? she said. ?They hit well and they were serving very well against us. One girl had four aces in a row on us?it was a topspin (hit) that just dropped. It was a bit of a killer for us.?
On the whole, Arnold rated the evening as a confidence builder.
?I would hope they felt good with the first two (matches) because I saw a lot of good things,? she said.
?We really saw a glimpse of what we can be. I know there was disappointment in the last one. It was nip and tuck the whole way.?
Coming?Arnold said she hopes the combination of a good performance on Tuesday and a week break from competition will serve her team well in preparation for the start of league play Tuesday, Sept. 8.
The Trojans were scheduled to play both Marion and Hesston on the Swathers? home court.
On Thursday, the Trojans play in a triangular at Nickerson before heading to Ellinwood next Tuesday for a double dual.