Seasoned Hillsboro team looks to reach a new level of play

Seven starters return to anchor the Hillsboro volleyball team this season, bringing experience 16th-year coach Sandy Arnold said will pay dividends this year.

“This year’s team will return a large number of girls with varsity experience,” Arnold said. “They have always had a passion for the game, but hopefully now their experience and game knowledge, in addition to their athleticism, will help them reach a new level.”

The Trojans lost to Ellinwood in the first round of the Inman sub-state tournament a year ago, concluding the season with an overall record of 12-22, 4-5 in the Central Kansas League.

Three all-league honorees highlight Hillsboro’s returning starters.

Junior Teegan Werth was a second-team All-CKL selection a year ago. The 5-foot, 7-inch outside hitter will anchor the Trojan attack.

Joining Werth as a returning all-league honoree is sophomore Sammie Saunders. The 5-8 outside hitter was an honorable mention all-league pick a year ago.

Also receiving honorable mention honors last year was junior middle hitter Jessica Saunders (5-10).

Additional returning starters for the Trojans are: senior middle hitter Addie Berens (5-8), and juniors Dani Klein (5-6, defensive specialist), Kinsey Kleiner (5-7, setter) and Tuesday Weisbeck (5-10, opposite hitter).

“These seven girls will have a great deal of experience,” Arnold said. “Many of the new faces will be in the younger classes.”

Success for the Trojans this season will hinge on serving and passing.

“Once our serving and our passing game is consistent, the possibilities for a strong run at the end of the season could open up,” Arnold said. “These two things have to be strong and at a higher level in order for the rest of the game to fall into place.”

CKL teams to beat include Hesston, Nickerson and Pratt, Arnold said.

“The CKL league is always competitive, so every night will be a challenge,” she said. “We will continue to branch out this season, as we have scheduled matches with larger schools such as Great Bend and Emporia.”

Arnold said she anticipated the CKL pre-season tournament at Hesston Aug. 31 to be a good indicator of league competition.

“We have at least three state-caliber teams in our league alone,” she said, adding that additional tournaments boasting tough competition include Southeast of Saline, Douglass and the Trojan Invitational.

“Abilene, Beloit and Concordia will be strong teams in (the Southeast of Saline) tournament,” she said. “Douglass will host some larger schools, as well as 2A powerhouse Garden Plain. This will be a true test of both our athletic skills and our character on the volleyball court. At our own tournament, the Trojan Invitational, we could potentially see Rock Creek, Circle or Augusta.”

Coming—Hillsboro opened the season at the CKL pre-season tournament at Hesston Aug. 31. The Trojans will travel to Cheney for a triangular with Hesston Sept. 10.