Trojans second at McPherson

Don Ratzlaff / Free Press<p>Hillsboro?s Callie blocks a Goddard attack during pool play at McPherson. The Trojans finished second at the 10-team invitational.

The Hillsboro volleyball team came through its most challenging week of the season so far with a 5-5 record, including an impressive second-place finish at the 10-team McPherson Invita?tional on Saturday.

Over a five-day stretch, the Class 2A Tro?jans looked up the classification ladder in every match, facing one 3A school, three 4A schools and five 5A schools (one of them twice). Three of the schools were ranked in the top 10 of their class.

By the time the dust cleared, the Trojans? season record stood at 17-11 with a 7-2 mark in the league, good for a third-place tie with Smoky Valley.

?I thought we played pretty well all morning,? coach Sandy Arnold said about the McPherson tournament. ?I know they aren?t all strong teams, but I felt like we played hard and we had some fun and enthusiasm going. We were talking more and moving better, and that was a lot of fun to see.?

The crown jewel of accomplishments came at McPherson, where the Trojans knocked off the host school, ranked No. 2 in 4A-Div. 1, in the tournament semifinals, 25-17, 28-26.

?We played with a lot enthusiasm,? Arnold said.

Earlier in pool play, Hillsboro had defeated 5A God?dard, 25-15, 25-22, 3A Lyons, 25-13, 25-20, and 5A Salina Central, 25-18, 25-14. The Trojans then lost to Bishop Carrol, ranked sixth in 5A, 25-19, 25-15.

After defeating McPher?son in the semis, Hillsboro lost to Bishop Carrol once more in the championship matchup, 25-21, 25-15.

?I?m not sure we could have beaten them if we played 10 times,? Arnold said. ?We played them close the first set, both times. I know the last match we were pretty wiped out. I don?t like to use that excuse, but we were tired from the whole week.?

Smoky Valley?Hills?boro?s week began Oct. 6, when the Trojans split a pair of league matches at Linds?borg against Nicker?son and Smoky Valley, both 4A.

The Trojans defeated Nickerson, 25-22, 25-12, but lost to the home team, who at the time was fourth in the CKL with a 6-2 league mark and 17-6 overall. The Vikings swept the Trojans, 25-21, 25-22.

?We did not play very well,? Arnold said. ?Our serve receive was not the best, and if you don?t have that then the rest of the game is a struggle.?

Great Bend?Hillsboro made the long drive to Great Bend Thursday to battle two 5A schools. The host school outlasted the Trojans, 25-22, 23-25, 26-24. Newton, ranked No. 5 in Class 5A, defeated Hillsboro 25-18, 25-21.

?I thought we played Newton better than Great Bend did, actually,? Arnold said. (The Railers) just have so many hitters, and that presents a challenge for us sometimes.?

Coming?Hillsboro was scheduled to complete league play Oct. 13 with matches at Haven against the home team and Halstead.

Hillsboro will then host the Trojan Invitational on Saturday with a field comprised of Augusta, Chap?man, Circle, Minneapolis, Rock Creek, Sterling and Sunrise Chris?tian Academy.

?I know Circle is a good team, and I imagine Rock Creek is too?they always have a strong program,? coach Sandy Arnold said. ?It just depends on which of my teams shows up. If I have the team that played Mac, we could have a very successful day. If I have the team that played Smoky Valley last week, we might be in serious trouble.?