BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The 2017 Holy Trinity Classic lived up to its name on Monday with one semifinal game and the championship both going into a tiebreaker.
The Fort Madison Bloodhounds battled back from a 29-27 first set loss to Holy Trinity to take the championship with a 23-15 second set and then a 15-11 tiebreaker win for the first title not won by the Crusaders in almost 10 years.
The Hounds started the tiebreaker up 1-0 when HTC senior Eryn Anderson missed on a kill to start the tiebreaker set. But Sam Hoenig came back to tie it at 1 on a kill. Then the Hounds created a little space with a kill from Amber Dilsaver and then four straight points with senior Kamryn Bailey serving including two aces to push the lead to 5-1.
The Crusaders then started a comeback of their own with a 3-1 run with Anderson serving. A miss on an attack from Dilsaver put the game at 5-4 Hounds, but Dilsaver ended the next point drilling a shot to put the Hounds up 6-4. HTC Senior Emily Box missed a kill and Dilsaver had another kill on the next point to give the Hounds an 8-4 advantage. Box had a kill on the next point to close the gap to 8-5 and the Hounds’ Kaeli Hutson crushed a point with Box at the service line to make it 9-5 Hounds.
Holy Trinity pushed back with kills from junior Taylor Boeding and Samantha Hoenig and an error by Jillian Wiseman brought the game back to within one. Senior Maya Rashid then fired an ace from the line and the game was knotted at 9. The Hounds took the next two points on kills by Wiseman and Hutson. Senior Leigh Johnson missed on a serve to make it 11-10 Hounds. With Boeding serving for the Crusaders, the Hounds’ Courtney Woodley threw in a dink for a score to make it 12-10.
Shyla Farmer had a miss to bring the game back to within one at 11-12, but HTC couldn’t muster another point with Box rotating into the back row and a couple misses sandwiched by an ace from Josie Pumphrey to take the title.
“That’s tough volleyball,” said Fort Madison Head Coach Kent Bailey. “Our kids had to fight through that first game losing 29-27 and so you know you’ve gotta fight back. The second game we came out strong and we won that game. And then the third game we had momentum, got a good jump, and then we missed some serves but the kids just kept fighting. And it was important for us to get Emily Box in the back row.”
Dilsaver said the Hounds were tired, but they were set on winning the title this year.
“I think we’re all like, it’s 10:45..and we’ve all been ready to go home. We had school today and we’re all tired but at the end of they day we played for each other. Us seniors have wanted this for so long and I don’t think HTC has lost this in forever. We were gonna finish it this year,” she said.
The run in the tiebreaker where she had two kills and a block to put the Hounds up 8-4 was a turning moment for the senior.
“I like to tell myself it needs to get done, and then it’s just like go mode and get it done,” she said.
Bailey said she has the ability to take over in any game, but the other front players including Wiseman, McKenna Fehseke and Woodley all had strong performances over the five games.
“But give credit to Holy Trinity…they had to do this Saturday, too.” he said.
HTC head coach Melissa Freesmeier said you play in tournaments like this to build for the post season.
“You’re tired and the mind’s gotta take over, you gotta dig down deep and do the little things late. I give the kids a lot of credit. It wasn’t a lack of effort, they just didn’t score enough to win in the end,” she said. “We build for the post season and this is just a stepping stone for where we want to go.”
She said junior Taylor Boeding took great strides since Saturday’s five game tournament in Keokuk where the Crusaders lost their first match of the year to New London.
“Today, I’ll have to say, Taylor Boeding had a rough Saturday, and today she stepped on the court and I had confidence in her and she wanted the ball. Just a totally new kid out there,” Freesmeier said. “Sam Hoenig and Anderson and those kids… they don’t always get the big kills, but they just get the job done.”
On the upside for Holy Trinity, the Crusaders were able to avenge the loss to New London but needed a tie breaker to get it done. The Crusaders downed Keokuk 21-6, 21-6 to start pool play, then handled Winfield-Mt. Union 21-6, 21-16 before a tougher matchup with Wapello. HTC got the job done in two sets 21-19 in a set where they trailed several times before pulling out the win and then rolled to a 21-14 win to go to bracket play where they faced New London before the championship game.
“That New London game took a lot out of us emotionally and physically but that’s why you’re in these tournaments. But give the kids credit, they never quit. We continued to hit, served aggressively at the end of the night, and just came up short,” said Freesmeier
The Hounds started with a 21-15, 21-11 win over Central Lee and then ran into New London and were stopped in the first game 10-21 before responding with a 21-14 game, and then took the tiebreaker 15-10. New London had beaten the Hounds out of the gate on Aug. 26 in another tiebreak 15-6. The Hounds then dismantled W-MU 21-7, 21-9 to advance to the championship.