BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DONNELLSON – The Holy Trinity Catholic volleyball team actually trailed for the first time this season Thursday night at Central Lee.
The night got easier as the games wore on and the Class 1A 2nd-ranked Crusaders downed the host Lady Hawks 25-22, 25-21, 25-10 to move to 5-0 on the year. HTC hasn’t dropped a game yet this season, but were pushed in the first game when Central Lee actually took a 12-11 lead on a missed kill by junior Eryn Anderson.
After jumping out to a 6-0 lead on 6-of-6 serving by Samantha Hoenig, the Lady Hawks came storming back outscoring HTC 7-2 on 4-of-5 serving from McKenna Hall and a kill by Anna Krehbiel to make it 8-7.
Junior Emily Box got going at the net with a couple kills with senior Maya Rashid serving to push the lead to 10-8. The girls traded points for the next couple rallies and then Krehbiel came up with another big shot to tie the game at 11s. A couple of Central Lee miscues had the Crusaders up by one at 13-12 but Kennedy Mercer tied things up again for the Lady Hawks with a kill at 13s. With Elyse Pothitakis serving HTC went back to Box in the middle to go back up 14-13, but Central Lee wouldn’t go away and put some big blocks on HTC’s high powered offense.
The score was knotted four more times at 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19 before the visitors were able to string a couple of points together off serves by Emily Dingman and Taylor Boeding and took at 23-20 lead. Central Lee got a couple point enders from Ava Doyle and Mya Merschman to cut the lead to 1 at 23-22 but Box put the next two points away for the win.
Head Coach Melissa Freesmeier said the girls responded well to being down for the first time all season.
“That’s the thing with these girls, they just don’t like to lose,” Freesmeier said after the game. “On crucial points we hit some big services and some big kills.”
A very warm gymnasium took the Crusaders out into the hallway over the break for some cool air and the second game started much the same as the first. HTC pushed to a 13-7 lead on a kill by Box. At 17-13 the Lady Hawks came after HTC again going on a 6-3 run capitalizing on three errors from HTC mixed in with a couple kills from Krehbiel, Merschman, and Hall to close the gap to one at 20-19.
But the Crusaders again showed why they are second ranked in the state and regrouped to close out the set on two kills by Madison Mohrfeld and one from Samantha Hoenig to close out the game 25-21.
“We had a chit-chat between games two and three about what we needed to do and what my outsides needed to do,” Freesmeier said. “Taylor and Eryn stepped up. Madison and Sam took what was given to them. And Box is Box.”
Box got her first real test of the year with some big blocks and kept asserting herself at the net.
“She kept her composure pretty well. She new what was working and mixed it up. She didn’t give them two points in a row and they had some big blocks on her tonight, so I thought she stayed pretty steady,” Freesmeier said.
The third game was all Crusaders as Anderson went 6 of 6 serving, followed by Box’s 5-of-5 run and Maya Rashids 5-of-5 run. Taylor Boeding had three kills in a 5-2 run that set the pace for the final game.
“Game three we had everybody doing the same things and taking what they were giving us and not forcing things,” Freesmeier said. “But Central Lee is a great ball club, they’re scrappy and a lot fun to play.
On the night, Box was 32-of-37 attacking with 21 kills. Anderson was 17-24 attacking with 7 kills. Rashid continues a torrid pace with 36 assists on the night for 12/set average. She leads the state in Class A with an 11.87 assist per set average. Hoenig was perfect again from the service line going 19-of-19 with three aces to set the pace for HTC. Boeding led the squad with 17 digs on the night.
HTC will play in the Keokuk Tournament on Saturday with games beginning at 9 a.m.
HTC won the frosh-soph games 21-17, 21-10, but dropped both games in junior varsity 18-21, 15-21.