Adversity doesn’t slow down Hillsboro
Hillsboro is 23-1, which was probably expected after the Trojans won the Class 3A title in 2011 with only two senior starters.
Even when power hitter Tena Loewen suffered a knee injury during basketball season, those expectations remained.
“It was a sad thing that she blew out her knee,” Hillsboro coach Sandy Arnold said, “but she worked hard rehabbing. She’s that kind of kid. If anyone will make it back (from injury), it’s going to be T. We’re very fortunate that she’s back.”
Loewen is still a hitter to fear on the outside, but she was only released to go full out, with a brace, after practice started in mid-August.
“Her jump is not where she wants it to be,” Arnold said. “She is such a smart player and so coachable. You can tell her to do something and she’ll try it and see the success in it.… What she lacks right now physically because of her knee, she’s making up with her determination and drive.”
Loewen was told it would take her three months to get back to where she needs to be, which would be at the end of October — at the Class 3A tournament.
“I like that timing,” Arnold said.
Hillsboro has a new setter in Maci Schlehuber, who hadn’t set at all the past two seasons. She’s done a good job learning the hitters, and it helps to have someone like Loewen. Junior Addie Lackey is another strong outside hitter, who uses the block well, hits hard and can jump, Arnold said.
Freshman Alex Ratzlaff, the daughter of Tabor volleyball coach Amy Ratzlaff, also plays outside and is a smart, hard-hitting player with a wicked top-spin jump serve.
Behind those hitters is libero Danae Bina, a three-year starter. She and Loewen lead Hillsboro in serving aces.
Hillsboro plays at Sterling in a quadrangular with Halstead and Hesston on Tuesday night.
Andale’s coming on strong — Andale won the Kingman tournament on Saturday and got a win over Garden Plain, one of Class 3A’s top teams.
“The girls were really excited about that win,” Andale coach Janelle Birkner said. “We beat them in two, convincingly. They played lights out.”
Andale is undefeated in the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail Division IV and plays at Buhler Tuesday night in a triangular with Winfield. Neither are league games.
Andale’s three seniors — setter Olivia Orth, outside Mackenzie Stuever and libero Jessica Schwartz — have been the key to the Indians’ 20-7 record. Stuever moved from middle to outside so she could get more hitting opportunities.
Sophomore Rachel Friedrichs has also been key at middle, although Birkner didn’t know if she would even play this year because Friedrichs broke her neck in a skiing accident over spring break.
Birkner was still surprised to get a call in late July from Friedrichs looking for information on the start of practice.
Andale’s serve-receive with Schwartz, Brittany Meyer and Courtney Lies has been solid, too.
But Birkner credits team chemistry most.
“That’s the biggest thing,” Birkner said. “The girls get along. They are friends and they push each other to work hard. That’s something that’s hard to create as a coach.”
Matches to watch — Kapaun plays at Northwest on Tuesday night. Kapaun beat Northwest in two sets on Sept. 25.
Maize South plays host to Valley Center and Andover on Tuesday night, while Newton and Maize are at Derby.