ELROY — The Hillsboro volleyball team opened the Scenic Bluffs Conference season last Thursday with a disappointing 7–25, 20–25, 25–23, 25–22, 15–11 loss at defending SBC champion Royall.
Coach Mark Sullivan wasn’t so much disappointed in the result as he was his team’s start.
“We were very flat, start to match,” said Sullivan. “We were dominated much of the first two sets before learning to compete harder. I was pleased with how we came back from two sets down to force a fifth set, but we need to learn how to close out sets and matches more aggressively and efficiently.”
After being thoroughly beaten in the opening set, Hillsboro fell five points short in game two.
The Tigers scratched and clawed to pull out narrow victories in games three and four, but the host Panthers avoided blowing its early lead with a 15–11 win in the fifth-and-decisive set.
“The biggest factor in our loss was serving as we had only six aces against 12 serving errors and serving only had an 86 percent serve rate,” added Sullivan. “We need to be above 90 percent and want to strive for two aces per error ratio. Our eight blocking errors were also a big factor, but we were playing what I feel is the strongest team in the conference and the girls know they can improve on this performance. Overall, pleased with their effort and guts to keep fighting when got down in a big hole.”
Senior outside hitter/setter Mackenzie Sullivan was her usual all-around stellar self, leading the team with 21 kills and 13 assists and she also made 27 digs.
Fellow senior middle hitter Tasha Mitchell added nine kills and a three blocks.
Sophomore Sydney Johnson slammed eight kills. Senior libero Brittany Borchardt had 30 digs and four aces.
Sophomore Alexis Mathis passed out 12 assists.
Hillsboro (4–4, 0–1 SBC) will return tonight against New Lisbon in the home opener. Saturday the Tigers will participate in the Holmen Invitational. Next Tuesday Hillsboro will travel to Brookwood to face the Falcons and Cashton in an SBC quadrangular.
Royall 3, Hillsboro 2
(from Thursday, Sept. 3 @ Elroy)
Hillboro 7 20 25 25 11
Royall 25 25 23 22 15
Hillsboro Individual Stat Leaders
Kills: Mackenzie Sullivan 21, Tasha Mitchell 9, Sydney Johnson 8. Blocks: Mitchell 3, April Thornsen 3, Gabi Bjornsen 3. Assists: Sullivan 13, Alexis Mathis 12. Aces: Brittany Borchardt 4. Digs: Brittany Borchardt 30, Sullivan 27, Courtney Fanta 20.