ELROY — Junior Paige Heyer had a match-high 32 kills and eight digs to lead Royall to a come-from-behind 21–25, 25–22, 21–25, 25–17, 15–7 victory over Hillsboro in Saturday’s WIAA Division 4 regional final.
The Tigers pushed the top-seeded and Scenic Bluffs Conference champion Panthers to the limit, but couldn’t close out the match in sets four or five.
Junior Mackenzie Sullivan posted 17 assists, 15 kills, 11 digs and a .375 hitting percentage to lead Hillsboro in defeat. Fellow junior Tasha Mitchell added 12 kills, 24 digs and five blocks. Freshman Sydney Johnson made eight kills and junior Brittany Borchardt had 29 digs.
“We played well in the match and had a 2–1 set lead but just couldn’t hang on,” said Hillsboro head coach Mark Sullivan. “I am proud of the girls’ effort as they stood tall in the pressure and played big. Royall was just able to put a few more balls away in the end.
“Both teams played hard and either would have shown well in sectionals. Good luck to Royall and we hope they make it to state tournament.”
The Panthers (26–10) advances to face Plum City in a D4 sectional semifinal tonight at Royall High School.
Meanwhile, the Tigers finished the year with a 16–18 overall record.
“Thanks to all the fans and parents for all the support and meals during the year,” said Sullivan. “Thanks to the custodians for all their help with the gym. Thanks to the administration as well as Kirby Wong and James Moe. Special thanks to my wife, Kelli Sullivan, for helping with team pictures, ordering shirts and just in general for putting up with me during the season.
“Thanks to all the coaches Ray Kaus, Tara Herritz and Dan Prenkert and managers-Peyton Sullivan and Toni Mitchell. Thanks to Dean’s Bus Service and to Jeremy Hennig and the pep band.”
“And finally, thanks to my girls for all their efforts in an up and down year,” added Sullivan. “You were able to end the season playing some of your best ball with great effort which is all I could ask for. Good luck the rest of the year and I am proud to be your coach.”
Last Thursday Mitchell had 10 kills, 17 digs and six blocks to lead Hillsboro to a 25–14, 25–9, 25–16 sweep of third-seeded Cashton in a regional semifinal.
Sullivan added eight kills, 10 assists, 13 digs and five aces.
Hillsboro opened the playoffs last Tuesday with an easy 25–14, 25–17, 25–6 sweep of seventh-seeded Kickapoo.
Sullivan led the Tigers with 15 kills, 14 assists, eight digs and seven aces.