Hillsboro wins third straight State Championship
Hillsboro may have dropped in class, from 3A to 2A, but Sandy Arnold, head coach of the Trojans, wouldn’t let her team think this tournament would be any easier.
“The expectations are so high and then when they said we were 2A everyone said, ‘you’ll roll right through that,’ Arnold said. “I didn’t want to hear that because the competition here is great.”
Arnold certainly lived up to those expectations after bringing home the Trojans’ third straight state title. Hillsboro took down a tough Jefferson Co. North squad winning 25-19 and 25-17.
“I’ll put my girls up against anybody,” Arnold said. “Mental toughness is just humongous anytime.”
It was that mental fortitude that pushed Hillsboro past the Chargers. The Trojans won some crushing points that halted the Jefferson County surge. And once the Chargers’ momentum was unplugged they had no answer for Hillsboro’s attack.
Arnold hasn’t made a secret of her team’s expectations they wanted to be in Emporia to takedown their new class of opponents.
“[The state title] has been our goal since the beginning of the year,” Arnold said. “It’s not like we shied away from it.”
Senior Danae Bina put the season into perspective.
“We knew it was going to be hard, but we were definitely willing to put in the work because we knew what the ultimate goal would feel like,” Bina said. “And it feels incredible.”
Silver Lake edges Cheney, wins 3A State Championship
A championship ring is a permanent symbol for a season capped with excellence. Silver Lake decided to take a different approach.
Their ring came with a more temporary and sugar-coated quality. The postgame championship huddled spurned the hoisting of celebratory Ring Pops, thus making victory both literally and figuratively sweet.
Silver Lake earned a 29-27, 24-26 and 25-19 three-game win in their final match of the year and earned head coach Sarah Johnson her first State Championship in six years of coaching at Silver Lake.
“I have an amazing group of girls,” Johnson said. “[Our team] wanted this and they showed that they wanted this. When we got down or missed a hit we turned around and we changed it for the better. We never let plays get us down.”
Silver Lake certainly changed things. After losing the second set on an error, Johnson’s team rallied around her and Silver Lake went on a momentous 10-0 run to begin the third and final set.
But Cheney wouldn’t make it easy, the Cardinals got the game back to within one point at 15-16, however the 10-point deficit was too much.
Silver Lake never trailed in the final game and put the Cardinals away 25-19.
Johnson’s team never let up, even when they made errors; an attitude derived from Johnson’s own experience as a volleyball player.
“I have a passion for the sport of volleyball that runs deep inside me,” Johnson said. “My mom was my coach in high school and I had the opportunity to win a state championship in high school.”