Back-to-back state champs set sights on return
Hillsboro High School volleyball coach Sandy Arnold doesn’t plan on having a rebuilding year after back-to-back state titles.
“I would be lying if I didn’t say I’m hoping to be back at the state tournament,” she said. “We all hope that. It’s a goal we have, a tradition to uphold.”
The Trojans have only missed the state tournament twice since 2004, and not since seniors Addie Lackey and Danae Bina were in sixth grade.
“I don’t believe these girls will have trouble being hungry,” Arnold said. “They are very competitive girls who realize how much hard work it takes to have a successful program — physically, emotionally, and mentally.”
Not every team would have such ambitious goals after losing a two-time state player of the year — Tena Loewen — but Hillsboro’s cupboard isn’t bare entering 2013.
Bina, a 5-4 libero; and Lackey, a 5-8 outside hitter; are joined by sophomores Alex Ratzlaff, a 5-8 outside hitter; and Shannon Heiser, a 5-8 middle blocker, as returning letterwinners from the 2012 championship team. Bina, Lackey, and Ratzlaff all earned state honors from the Kansas Volleyball Association.
“Bina will need to be our emotional, vocal leader both on and off the court,” Arnold said. “On the court, she and Addie lead by example with their athleticism, competitiveness, and drive.
“Alex and Shannon, although younger, will also take leadership roles due to their experience on the varsity court,” she said.
The Trojans will be an aggressive team on offense, always looking to score. Arnold said the players also have strong fundamental skills and a good work ethic and attitude.
Perhaps the biggest question mark for the Trojans is at setter. The team lost Maci Schlehuber and have little experience at that spot.
“We have girls who can set, just few with experience,” Arnold said.
Other senior departures included middles Erin Loewen, Christina Morris, and Taylor Thiessen.
Arnold and assistant coaches Jill Hein and Collette Haslett will emphasize passing and serving, as always.
“If you can’t do either of those, you can’t play volleyball … very well,” Arnold said.
The Central Kansas League has gotten more competitive this year with the addition of Larned and Hoisington. Hoisington has gone to state each of the past two years, and the Trojans defeated Hoisington in the 2011 finals.
“We should be very competitive in the league, which will build us up for postseason play,” Arnold said.
The Trojans won’t take it easy in their non-league schedule, either. They will play Great Bend and Newton on Oct. 10, and they may get matches against Salina South, Concordia, and Abilene on Sept. 14.
- Aug. 31: 12-team Central Kansas League tournament, 9 a.m. at home.
- Sept. 10: Double dual, 5 p.m. at Douglass against Douglass, Hesston, and Word of Life Traditional.
- Sept. 14: Eight-team tournament, 9 a.m. at Southeast of Saline.
- Sept. 17: Triangular, 5 p.m. at Haven against Haven and Cheney.
- Sept. 24: Triangular, 5 p.m. at home against Pratt and Kingman.
- Oct. 1: Double dual, 5 p.m. at Smoky Valley against Lyons and Smoky Valley.
- Oct. 5: Eight-team tournament, 8:30 a.m. at Canton-Galva.
- Oct. 8: Double dual, 5 p.m. at Hesston against Hesston and Sterling.
- Oct. 10: Triangular, 5 p.m. at Newton against Newton and Great Bend.
- Oct. 15: Triangular, 5 p.m. at home against Halstead and Nickerson.
- Oct. 19: Trojan Invitational eight-team tournament, 9 a.m. at home.
- Oct. 22: Triangular, 4 p.m. at Trinity Catholic (Hutchinson) against Trinity Catholic and Sedgwick.
- Oct. 26: Sub-state, 1 p.m. at site to be determined.
- Nov. 1: State, 8:30 a.m. at White Auditorium, Emporia State University.
- Nov. 2: State, 10 a.m. at White Auditorium, Emporia State University.