The Hillsboro High School volleyball team had a tall task in front of them on Thursday, Oct. 24, but it came with a big reward if successful. The Pana Panthers were on the cusp of a third straight undefeated season in South Central Conference play, but Hillsboro had the opportunity to not only end that streak, but also claim a share of the SCC title for themselves.
Alas, there is a reason why the Panthers had won the last four SCC championships, a number that increased to five straight after a two set victory over the Toppers on Thursday in Pana.
Hillsboro would make Pana work for it though, mounting a series of comebacks that kept the games close. In game one, the Toppers were down 16-7, but outscored the Panthers 14-9 the rest of the way out as they came up just short, with Pana winning 25-21.
Hillsboro didn’t let the Panthers get that far in front in game two, although Pana did hold a five point advantage at 10-5. The Hiltoppers would come back though. With the score at 14-11 in Pana’s favor, Hillsboro went on a five point run to take a two point lead over the Panthers.
A quick timeout allowed Pana to regroup though, as they got the serve back and scored 11 straight points for the come-from-behind 25-16 victory.
The Toppers didn’t have their best game on the attack, with Kaci Papin and Kayli Ward held to just seven kills between them. Chloe Beck and Emily Reynolds also combined for three kills, while Reagan DeVaisher led the team in assists with six.
They would have more success at the net on the defensive end, with Papin posting three blocks, Major adding two and Ward, Beck and Emma Miller adding one each. Further back, Ally Devore led the team in digs with five.
In the serving game, Beck led the way with five points, followed by Major with four and Jordan Jacobs with three.
While their bid for the program’s first South Central title in volleyball came up just short, Hillsboro did show a big improvement over last year’s 3-6 finish. With a 7-2 mark, the Toppers finished third in the SCC in 2019, behind Pana and Staunton (8-1), the only two conference teams to defeat them.
The focus now turns to the postseason, where they will have another tough test as they play Greenville on their home court at 6:30 p.m. for their regional opener. If they win, they’ll have a chance to take on Staunton once again, who they took to three games earlier in the season.
October 24 at Pana
Hillsboro 21 16
Pana 25 25
Service Points: Chloe Beck 5, Haley Major 4, Jordan Jacobs 3, Emily Reynolds 2, Ally Devore 1, Kayli Ward 1. Kills: Kaci Papin 4, Kayli Ward 3, Chloe Beck 2, Emily Reynolds 1. Assists: Reagan DeVaisher 6, Jordan Jacobs 3, Chloe Beck 1. Digs: Ally Devore 5, Emily Reynolds 2, Maria Hernandez 2, Haley Major 1, Chloe Beck 1. Blocks: Kaci Papin 3, Haley Major 2, Emma Miller 1, Kayli Ward 1, Chloe Beck 1.
Records: Hillsboro (20-11, 7-2); Pana (25-10, 9-0).