With all six teams coming from the same conference, there wasn't a whole lot of mystery in what the opposition brought to the table for Hillsboro when they met up with Greenville in the regional semifinal on Oct. 23.
The Toppers had played the Comets well on Sept. 27, before falling to the visitors from Bond County 23-17.
"We knew what we needed to work on both offensively and defensively to have a shot at the win," Hillsboro Coach Emily Zimmerman said. "I thought we executed our game plan well. We placed the ball in the openings of Greenville's defense, and we were able to score. We served aggressively, communicated well, and defensively we made some adjustments that proved to be successful during the match."
Greenville would also adjust though, coming back from a loss in the first game to win the next two and end the Toppers' season.
With a home court advantage, Hillsboro took a 25-21 win in game one and played well in game two before the Comets emerged with a 25-19 victory. Game three would be another close one, but the Toppers were unable to reel in Greenville, falling to the Comets 25-20.
In spite of the final result, Zimmerman said she was happy with how her team played, even when the Comets were within striking distance of the win.
"When the game was close and we found ourselves trying to pull from behind, we never started to play 'safe' like we had done in previous matches this season," she said. "We knew if we wanted a chance at the win, we needed to continue to be aggressive and attack the ball up until the final point. To me, that showed a great deal of improvement in terms of our mentality on the court."
The improvement shown in the game is proof of the distance the Toppers have come since the opening game, when they started the season with just three players (juniors Chloe Beck, Emily Reynolds and Kayli Ward) with significant varsity experience.
Hillsboro won't have that lack of experience next year as they lose just one senior and return the statistical leaders of every category you can track.
It's been 13 years since the Toppers last regional title, but if they can continue to make strides next year, 2019 could be a special one for the Hillsboro volleyball program.
"I'm very proud of how far this team has grown in just one season. We finished this season with 18 total wins and we showed so much improvement both individually and as a team," Coach Zimmerman said. "I'm excited to see what we can accomplish together next year!"
October 23 at Hillsboro
Class 2A Hillsboro Regional
Hillsboro 25 19 20
Greenville 21 25 25
Service Points: Jordan Jacobs 7, Haley Major 6, Chloe Beck 5, Kayil Ward 4, Ally Devore 3, Emily Reynolds 2. Aces: Haley Major 3, Jordan Jacobs 2, Chloe Beck 1. Kills: Kaci Papin 8, Haley Major 5, Kayli Ward 5, Emily Reynolds 4, Chloe Beck 2, Emma Miller 2. Assists: Jordan Jacobs 8, Reagan DeVaisher 4, Emma Miller 2, Ally Devore 1. Digs: Emily Reynolds 12, Ally Devore 8, Haley Major 8, Chloe Beck 5, Kayli Ward 4, Jordan Jacobs 4, Kaci Papin 2, Reagan DeVaisher 1. Blocks: Haley Major 3, Emma Miller 2, Kaci Papin 1, Kayli Ward 1, Chloe Beck 1.
Records: Hillsboro (18-14); Greenville (23-8).