Hileman’s teamwork shines in KVA all-star match
When Tracie Hileman arrived in Topeka for the 23rd Annual Kansas Volleyball Association All-Star Match she hadn't played competitively in quite some time.
But following two practices with her one-day-only Red Team teammates and a KVA luncheon June 7, Hileman showed no signs of rust on the court.
In her first competitive action since playing for her club team months ago, the recent Tonganoxie High grad helped lead the Red Team to a tightly contested 29-31, 30-23, 37-35, 30-28, 13-15 victory against the Blue Team, which featured fellow THS grad Sami Franiuk.
After the match Hileman was watching the KVA give out a few of its annual awards when she was shocked to find out she had won the Joan Lundstrom Wells Award of Excellence.
"I didn't really know what it was, but I found out that's a really big deal," Hileman said of the award that goes to the match's top player.
The Chieftain was humbled by the honor as well as surprised - "Oh, she got it?" Hileman said was the likely reaction by the spectators and players.
Although her stat line didn't jump off the page - 16 digs, five kills, an assist and a block - Hileman, who will play at Fort Hays State next season, said she likely received MVP honors for her team-first mentality on the Washburn University floor.
On a court filled with talented players, somebody had to win it and Franiuk said her high school teammate was as deserving as anyone.
"She stayed in there almost all the time, and she was really productive for her team," Franiuk, who recorded nine kills and six digs herself, said, adding that the level of competition made it hard for anyone to have overwhelming numbers. "When you're playing with girls of that ability it's hard to get a lot of kills in; they know what to expect."
The talent level on the floor also made the match even more competitive, Hileman said.
"I felt the seriousness; it felt like a championship game," she said, noting that the close scores made it more enjoyable because those didn't come often in the high school season. "It's a whole different game, more fun to watch and play."
Franiuk said playing with and against the best players from around the area made it fun.
"The competition was great, and the level of the game just stepped up. It was almost like you were playing in a college game," the future Pittsburg State player said. "You put the best out there, and we're going to want to win. There was nothing on the line, but we're all volleyball players, we all wanted to win, we all hate losing : it could be a pingpong game. We don't care, we want to win."
Franiuk said that competitive drive didn't make things ugly for her and Hileman though. They joked back and forth about knowing where the other was going to hit the ball and kept things friendly.
Hileman said the THS duo had no reason to approach the game with any animosity.
"We understood how big of an honor it was to be in the match," she said.