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Hillsboro spikers poised for better 2019 season

Staff writer

Has it really been 5 years since the Trojan volleyball team last made the state tournament?

That used to be a date circled on Hillsboro’s calendar, and there was plenty of reason to.

In 16 years at the helm, coach Sandy Arnold led the Trojans to 7 appearances in 8 years, last qualifying in 2014, not to mention winning four straight titles starting in 2011.

Times have been tough since and the sand in the hourglass is draining rapidly for Arnold’s top class of juniors to turn the tide.

The Trojans have the talent, however, Central Kansas League play and brutal weekend tournaments have made for tough sledding since.

That did Hillsboro no favors last year as the Trojans struggled during a 12-22 season before being bounced out in the first round of the Inman sub-state by Ellinwood.

The Trojans also went 4-5 in the CKL, finishing 5th.

The good news for Arnold is seven starters return and they’ve got plenty of experience.

“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.

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

A trio of all-CKL performers are back with the junior duo of outside hitter Teegan Werth and middle hitter Jessica Saunders, and Saunders’ sophomore sister, Sammie, another outside hitter.

Werth was selected to the second team with the Saunders’ sisters earning honorable mention.

Joining Jessica in the middle is Hillsboro’s lone senior, the 5-8 Addie Berens, and possibly 5-10 junior, Tuesday Weisbeck.

Juniors Dani Klein, and Kinsey Kleiner handle the setting and have the talent to improve from a year ago and challenge for league honors.

The league’s not going to get any easier for the Trojans with Hesston, Nickerson, Pratt — a trio Arnold sees a potential state champion contender, battling it out for the top spot.

The Trojans will again continue branching out their scheduling with larger schools like Emporia and Great Bend gracing Hillsboro’s schedule.

Hillsboro will get an early look at what it will need to stay in the thick of league action when they open with the CKL preseason tournament at Hesston.

“The CKL is always competitive, so every night will be a challenge,” Arnold said. We have at least three state caliber teams in our league alone.”

The Trojans got a lift when the McPherson tournament was scratched, and replaced with Douglass in the season’s third.

It’s doubtful to be much simpler, though, with Class 2A stalwart Garden Plain also competing at Douglass.

“This will be a true test of both our athletic skills and our character on the volleyball court,” Arnold said of the Douglass tournament.

Hillsboro also faces a stiff tournament at Southeast of Saline, which will feature formidable opponents such as Beloit, Abilene, and Concordia.

The Trojan Invitational could potentially set up meetings with Rock Creek, Circle, and Augusta as well.

Last modified Aug. 29, 2019

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