BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – If teamwork cresting at the end of the season is an indication of how a team will do in the playoffs, the 5th-ranked HTC girls got off to a very good start on Tuesday night in first round regional Class 1A volleyball action.
The Lady Crusaders swept Burlington Notre Dame in three quick games 25-5, 25-14, 25-10 with the only real threat coming in the second game when the Nikes kept a lead until Eryn Anderson recorded a kill to tie the game at 13. Samantha Hoenig had a kill from the right side to give Holy Trinity a 14-13 lead and the Crusaders cruised the rest of the night.
Eryn Anderson was on a tear from the service line all night having two-9-point runs in both the first and second games. Her serving in the first game came at 2-1 HTC leading. Benefitting from four Emily Box kills in the run, Eryn Anderson moved the Crusaders to an 11-1 lead capped off by a great save on hit three by Samantha Hoenig who was almost under the net and got the ball to spin back over the top.
“I’ve been struggling the last couple of tournaments. The last couple practices I just took my time and focused on keeping the ball in play. I tried to focus on the little things and not overdo anything,” Anderson said after the game.
“I was just happy with the win. I think we really trusted each other tonight and played really well.”
Head coach Melissa Freesmeier said Anderson regularly packs a good serve and tonight used it well.
“She’s got a great serve. She’s getting stronger and she’s got that serve that can just- whooop-drop on you,” Freesmeier said. “She did a great job and got us some points and good runs a couple different times. Our serving has been strong all year and we hope to use that to our advantage down the stretch.”
A kill by Hope Ward ended Anderson’s service run, but then Hoenig took over the serving and reeled off six straight points aided by kills from Anderson and Taylor Boeding to push the lead to 17-3. The Nikes couldn’t get anything going in the first game at all and senior Maya Rashid stepped to the service line and capped the game 25-5 with an ace to win the set.
The second game saw the Crusaders trailing halfway through the set, but most of the points were errors on HTC’s side of the net before they could regroup at 13s. A kill by Box put HTC up 16-14 and Anderson stepped to the line and smoked 9 more straight points including back-to-back aces at points 19 and 20. She decided to repeat the feat at points 24 and 25 to seal the win.
Freesmeier said she calls the serves but tries to use each girl’s abilities when calling the serve.
“I try to use my players’ strengths, so I try to keep that in mind and tonight it worked. But we do have one rule on this team – if you don’t see the number, it better be an ace.” she joked.
Game three was also won quickly by the Crusaders. After Box hit a kill at 2-2, Holy Trinity cruised on a 10-2 run with Box recording three more kills in the run and Anderson and Hoenig serving. After a Notre Dame time out, Box went to the line and stayed for nine points of her own including three aces at points 14-16 and HTC had an 11-point lead they would never relinquish.
In a nice cap on the evening, Anderson served for the 25th point in the third game.
“This was all around our best hitting night for everyone for the year. We hit the spots, we stayed loose but focused, and just did a lot of really good things tonight,” Freesmeier said. “Notre Dame is a good team, we were just really on tonight.”
Rashid said the Nikes force HTC to focus on not making mistakes.
“Notre Dame makes us crack down, we can’t give them any less credit. We started out high and slow which definitely helped but we definitely let them get on a run, but we got back together and played well as a team and covered up for each other.”
The Crusaders will now face Seymour in a 7 p.m. match Monday. Seymour downed Twin Cedars 16, 17, 10 in straight sets.
In other District 8 action, Moravia downed Moulton-Odell 11, 29-27, 23, East Union downed Murray 23, 16, 23; Lamoni defeated Diagonal 15, 16, 15 and Central Decatur downed Mormon Trail 21, 20, 13. New London and Southeast Warren had byes in the first round. New London will face Moravia at New London Monday at 7. East Union will play Lamoni and Southeast Warren plays Central Decatur all on Monday night.
The regional semifinals are played Oct. 26th at New London and Afton with the regional championship on Oct. 31 at a location to be determined.