Volleyball team tied for second in conference during first half of play

  Jessyca Brown
  Friday, October 6, 2023 2:55 PM

Hillsboro, TX

hill_college_volleyball_vs_richland_090623.jpgHill College’s volleyball team ended its first half of conference play tied with North Central Texas College after falling to NCTC, 3-0, Wednesday in Gainesville.

The Rebels (12-14 overall, 5-2 in conference) sit two games behind first-place Weatherford College, which is also ranked No. 8 in the nation in NJCAA Division I competition.

“Weatherford College has a very solid and experienced team this year,” Hill College Head Volleyball Coach Dylan Butler said. “With 11 sophomores on the roster, it is no surprise they are having the season they are having.”

Butler also said when Hill College recently hosted Weatherford College, it was apparent many players still had some frustrations from losing to the Rebels last year in the Region 5 Volleyball Tournament.

“Our freshmen didn’t comprehend the level of rivalry that has brewed since Weatherford College’s inaugural season last year,” Butler added. “Following our loss, they now understand and have a new drive to make a difference in the upcoming rematch Oct. 18 in Weatherford. It’ll be a much different game in Round 2.”

Although the Rebels have 14 losses on paper, Butler said eight of those losses came from six of the Top 20 NJCAA Division I teams in the nation.

“I scheduled the way I did knowing we would do one of two things: either step up to the plate and turn some heads; or take the losses as learning experiences for my young team,” Butler said. “We have so far done the latter.

“I don’t regret any of our losses – as we have quickly improved in all areas of our game following our first matchup against Trinity Valley Community College (currently ranked No. 10 in the nation),” he added. “Each loss has presented a learning opportunity that will pay huge dividends down the road and extending on to next season.”

Butler also said he felt like his team hasn’t yet secured that “big win” this year, but players have continued to use the motivation of the “almosts” to get closer and closer to their goal.

“Our five-set thriller against Navarro College (currently ranked No. 3 in the nation) on Sept. 28 really sparked our competitive drive,” he added, “and has set us on a course to continue pushing to get that ‘big win.’ We have proved we can hang with the best of the best…now the mission is to find the grit within us to close out a tough match.”

Key individual stat leaders for Hill College so far this season include sophomore outside hitter Daniela Gomez (2002 First Team All-Conference) with 253 kills, 3.16 kills per set, 0.200 hitting percentage, 43 service aces, and 210 digs; freshman middle blocker Klaudia Brzeczkowska with 95 kills, 1.16 kills per set, 0.258 hitting percentage, 73 digs, 12 block solos, and 47 block assists; sophomore setter Natalie Hildebrand with 396 assists, 4.71 assists per set, 33 services and 19 digs; sophomore libero Samantha Stahl with 74 assists, 39 service aces, 324 digs and averages 3.81 digs per set; freshman outside hitter Josie Rollins with 197 kills, 2.32 kills per set, 0.198 hitting percentage, 6 block solos and 20 block assists; and freshman opposite hitter Mina Petrovic with 154 kills, 2.08 kills per set, 0.217 hitting percentage, 111 digs, 6 block solos, and 25 block assists.

This year’s Region V Tournament will be in Weatherford at the conclusion of the regular season. It will also have a new tournament format taking the top four teams from Region 5 North and the top four teams from Region 5 West. It will also be a double-elimination tournament with two NJCAA Tournament bids up for grabs.

“Although this season has had its challenges, we still remain optimistic and driven to attend to our ‘Unfinished Business’ [referencing last year’s one game away from a national tournament appearance] that to this day still leaves a sour taste in our mouths,” Butler said.