Danae Bina, Addie Lackey, Maddi Duerksen, and Taylor Vogt helped Hillsboro score another state volleyball championship last season, and now they’re gone, seniors who made their marks and graduated.
The loss of four seniors for many schools would mean a rebuilding year. Hillsboro head coach Sandy Arnold doesn’t see it that way for the Trojans.
“I wouldn’t call it rebuilding,” Arnold said. “We’ll have to get people into their roles, but we have talented players returning.”
Chief among them are two juniors, outside hitter Alex Ratzlaff and middle blocker Shannon Heiser. They kept their skills sharp during the offseason by playing club volleyball, and Arnold said they wouldn’t have any difficulties readjusting to the Trojans’ sets.
Senior leadership won’t be lacking for the Trojans, with Lakyn Johnson, Emily Jost, Brandi Nowak, Julie Sinclair, Shelley Arnold, and Tara Proffitt all expecting to figure in Arnold’s rotation.
The key to a successful season is simple, Arnold said.
“Offense. You hear coaches talk about how defense wins championships, but you’ve got to be good offensively,” she said.
Serving is more than just getting the ball over the net, Arnold said. She drills players on how to serve to different positions on the court. Doing so effectively gives a team offensive control by exploiting weaknesses in an opponent’s personnel and alignments.
One other element in Arnold’s strategy is passing. The Trojans will work out of both 5-1 and 6-2 offensive sets, and accurate passing ensures hitters will get the ball where they need it in order to score.
Arnold acknowledged this year’s team will have to face the pressure that comes from winning three consecutive state championships, two in Class 3A and one in 2A.
“It’s going to take a lot of mental toughness,” Arnold said. “There’s always a target on your back.”
Hillsboro will open the season with the Central Kansas League tournament Aug. 30 at Hesston.