With a hard-fought 3–2 victory over visiting Royall last Tuesday night, the Hillsboro volleyball team took a major step toward winning a share of the Scenic Bluffs Conference title.
The Tigers (14–15, 9–3 SBC) battled back from a two games to none deficit to hand the Panthers (18–8, 11–1) their first conference loss of the season, 25–27, 17–25, 25–23, 25–20, 15–13, in the first game of the SBC quad at Hillsboro High School to momentarily pull into a first place tie in the league standings.
Unfortunately, a little more than an hour after topping Royall, the tired Hillsboro Tigers were swept in straight sets by Wonewoc–Center in Tuesday’s nightcap, 16–25, 13–25, 24–26.
“We played one of our more inspired matches against Royall winning the final three sets after dropping the first two,” said Hillsboro head coach Mark Sullivan. “I was very emotional and very proud of our effort.
“Then we came out against Wonewoc–Center after the big win over Royall and were over-matched completely. We looked physically and emotionally spent. It was still a good night to go 1–1 against that competition.”
Junior setter/outsider hitter Mackenzie Sullivan was the Hillsboro Player of the Match against Royall with 14 kills, 26 digs, 24 assists, 3 aces and a .310 hitting percentage.
“She does a little of everything for us,” said coach Sullivan, who is also Mackenzie’s father.
Fellow junior Tasha Mitchell added 19 kills and three blocks. Junior Brittany Borchardt made a team-high 41 digs.
Even with Tuesday’s loss to Wonewoc–Center (8–8, 6–6), Hillsboro remained alive in the race for this year’s conference title and had a chance to control their own destiny with a SBC match at Royall tonight to close the regular season.
That is until Thursday night when visiting Cashton dealt the Tigers a crushing blow on Senior Night, handing Hillsboro a 21–25, 22–25, 25–23, 25–20, 15–10 loss.
“We came out strong against Cashton blocking well and won first two sets, but we lost by two points in third set and never recovered,” said Sullivan. “This was a devastating loss as it pretty much took us out of the conference championship race.
“A lack of consistency continues to be our nemesis. We still have time to re-adjust our goals and prepare for post-season and our season finale at Royall. We need to take this loss and use it as motivation to work harder at practice and continue to improve.”
Sullivan led the Tigers with 16 kills, a .457 hitting percentage with no errors, 37 digs, 21 assists, three blocks and two assists on Thursday.
Junior April Thornsen added nine kills, four blocks and four aces. Freshman Sydney Johnson had 10 kills and two blocks.
Seniors Bridgett Madden, Kelsey Thorell, Sarah Fick, Abigail Munson and Sierra Hanke were all honored prior to Thursday’s match.
“We thank them for their contribution over the past four years both on the court and equally important off the court,” said Sullivan. “I appreciate all the hard work they put in and their great attitudes. It helps make the grind fun when you have good kids to work with that get along and jump in to help with any task. We will miss them all!”