The Hillsboro Trojan volleyball team had multiple reasons to celebrate its championship performance at the Canton-Galva Invitational on Saturday.
The Trojans? 25-14, 23-25, 25-23, win over perennial power Moundridge in the finals marked the first time since 2000 that a Hillsboro squad had claimed the championship, it avenged this team?s loss to the Wildcats in last year?s title match, and it gave coach Sandy Arnold her first win ever over her high school alma mater.
Not a bad day?s work.
Oh, one more thing: It was Arnold?s first-ever tournament title at a place where she has competed as a coach?first at Canton-Galva, then at HHS since 2004?for 13 years.
?I used to think the number 13 was unlucky, but here it was good,? said Arnold, who watched her team improve to 18-5 for the season with the five-match sweep.
?I?m just happy for the girls,? she added. ?They?ve wanted that title for a long time too, especially the seniors.?
In the championship match, the Trojans rolled to a relatively easy victory in Game 1 against Moundridge, who came in seeded fourth at 12-5.
So much for easy. The margin between the two teams in Game 2 was never more than three points. HHS carried a 17-14 lead when the Wildcats reeled off five straight points to take the lead.
The Trojans finally pulled back into a tie at 23-23 on a kill by Dakota Kaufman, but Moundridge served out the final two points for the win.
History seemed on the way to to repeating itself in Game 3 when Hillsboro established an early lead that grew to 13-7 after freshman Tena Loewen stuffed a Wildcat volley.
But Moundridge went on a 7-0 run to pull into the lead at 14-13. The rest of the way, the lead for either team was never more than single point until a block by Kaufman pushed the margin to 22-20.
Moundridge rallied one more time for a 23-22 lead before kills by Taryn Mayfield and Tara Heinrichs regained the lead for HHS at 24-23. The game and match ended on a hitting error by the Wildcats.
The win against her home town team was a sweet moment for Arnold.
?I don?t know as many of those girls and their parents as I used to, but I grew up there and my parents grew up there?and I definitely have that same competitive drive that they have,? she said.
?It was a challenge, but that?s OK. I didn?t want it to be easy because that makes it better.?
Second-seeded Hillsboro advanced to the finals by sweeping its pool matches with sixth-seeded Little River (11-9) 25-5, 26-16, seventh-seeded Halstead (7-15) 27-25, 25-21, and third-seeded Wichita Home School (13-5) 25-11, 25-15.
In bracket play, Hillsboro defeated Hesston 25-20, 25-14.
Arnold said she was pleased with her team?s physical and mental focus throughout the day.
She wondered if perhaps her team had turned a corner following with its dramatic, come-from-behind win over Hoising?ton?the league?s Western Division leader?last Thursday at Hillsboro.
The Trojans had trailed at one point 20-11 in the decisive Game 3 before claiming the match victory, 17-25, 25-18, 26-24.
Hillsboro also defeated Haven that night, 25-11, 25-12.
Coming?The Trojans have a full schedule ahead. On Tuesday they were scheduled to compete in two league matches at Marion.
On Thursday they travel to Great Bend for matches against 5A schools Great Bend and Newton, then travel to Wichita Collegiate next Tuesday to battle the undefeated Spartans, who are ranked No. 1 in Class 3A.