The Hillsboro volleyball team met up with a buzzsaw on Tuesday, Sept. 7, as they welcomed the 8-1 Marquette Explorers to town.
Marquette’s only loss this season came in the Roxana tournament, where they fell to Civic Memorial, who is currently undefeated.
While Hillsboro wasn’t able to hand Marquette their first loss, they were able to have some positive moments against the Alton-based private school before losing 25-10, 25-16.
After a moment of silence in honor of the late Grace Herschelman, who would have been 10 on Sept. 7 had she not passed away on May 19 after a long battle with Infantile Neuroaxonal Dystrophy (INAD), the Toppers took the court clad in their purple “Team Grace” jerseys.
The Explorers wasted little time in jumping out in front, posting a quick 6-0 lead before Hillsboro got on the board. The lead continued to grow throughout the first set before Marquette finished off the 15-point win.
Another quick surge opened game two, with Marquette leading 3-0 in the blink of an eye. Hillsboro battled back, though, tying the game at 4-4 and 6-6 in the early going.
The Explorers wouldn’t trail again, but Hillsboro managed to keep it within a few points. Unfortunately, the Toppers struggled to string points together and the Marquette lead grew from 14-9 to 17-11 to 20-12.
The Hiltoppers put up one last attempt to extend the game, but Marquette closed out the game on a 5-1 run to improve to 9-1 overall.
Senior Abbigail Schreiber led the Toppers with three service points, while Layne Rupert and Sophia Blankenship added two points apiece. Both of Rupert’s points came on aces, while Blankenship also had an ace.
Rupert paced the team in kills, putting down five, while Alayna McCario and Sophia Blankenship combined for three more point scoring hits. Kinley Richardson led the team in assist with five, while Emilee Roemelin added three.
Defensively, Hillsboro had three blocks, with McCario, Roemelin and Blankenship making their presence felt at the net.
The road doesn’t get much easier for the 1-3 Hiltoppers, who have to play at Pana on Sept. 9, just a few weeks after the Panthers handed them a loss in the season opener.
After that, Hillsboro comes home on Sept. 10 for the Montgomery County Invitational, A Grace-Filled Tourney. The Toppers will play in their home gym at 4:45 p.m. vs. North Mac, at 6:45 p.m. vs. Edinburg and at 8:45 p.m. vs. Father McGivney.
Bracket play follows on Sept. 11, with games at Hillsboro and co-host Lincolnwood. The Toppers will play at 11 a.m. (the location depends on their pool play performance) and at either 1 or 2 p.m. depending on if they win or lose.
More information on the tournament can be found at montgomerycountyinvitational.weebly.com.
September 7 at Hillsboro
Marquette 25 25
Hillsboro 10 16
Service Points: Abbigail Schreiber 3, Layne Rupert 2, Sophia Blankenship 2, Alayna McCario 1, Emilee Roemelin 1. Aces: Layne Rupert 2, Sophia Blankenship 1. Kills: Layne Rupert 5, Alayna McCario 2, Sophia Blankenship 1. Assists: Kinley Richardson 5, Emilee Roemelin 3. Blocks: Alayna McCario 1, Emilee Roemelin 1, Sophia Blankenship.
Record: Hillsboro (1-3); Marquette (9-1).