Wonewoc–Center, the only Scenic Bluffs Conference team to hand Hillsboro a conference loss this year, nearly ended the Tigers’ season Saturday night.
The visiting Wolves won games one and two and were on the verge up pulling the upset, but top-seeded Hillsboro rallied to win the WIAA Division 4 regional title on its home court 17–25, 25–14, 21–25, 27–25, 15–11.
The Tigers (25–9–1) survived a scare in the fourth game, but scoring the final two points to stay alive and force a winner-take-all fifth game.
“This was an epic battle,” said Hillsboro head coach Mark Sullivan. “We came out very tight and never really got in any rhythm the entire night. Wonewoc seemed in control of play most of the way.
“We had an uncharacteristically high number of service and attack errors with some questionable passing.”
But Sullivan’s Tigers kept fighting.
Sophomore Tasha Mitchell had 14 kills and four blocks. Senior Sami Levy added 13 kills, and sophomore Mackenzie Sullivan chipped in 11 kills, 16 digs, 21 assists and three aces.
Sophomore Brittany Borchardt recorded a season-high 44 digs to lead a gritty defensive effort. Senior Kelsey Skala passed out a team-high 25 assists.
“I was very proud of how each of the players came up with big plays at the end of game four to force a game five and finish off the match,” said Sullivan. “It was not a clean game, but still a positive sign that they never gave up in the face of adversity. Winning the regional championship is a great milestone for this team.”
Hillsboro will now face Cochrane–Fountain City, the top seed in its eight-team regional, in Thursday’s sectional semifinal at C–FC High School.
Last Tuesday Hillsboro opened the playoffs with a 25–10, 25–14, 25–13 sweep of Weston.
Levy had 11 kills to lead the offense. Sullivan and Mitchell each served up five aces in the win. Hillsboro had 17 aces as a team in the match.
Thursday night the Tigers swept Cashton 25–21, 25–17, 25–22 in the regional semifinals.
Mitchell had nine kills and three blocks. Sullivan and Levy each had eight kills.
ON THE AIR AND ON THE NET: Q102 FM - Viroqua will carry the Hillsboro volleyball match at Cochrane-Fountain City Thursday night delayed starting at 8:15 p.m., or on greatriversnews.com