BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DANVILLE – While some teams in the state have played as many as a dozen matches, the wait for the Holy Trinity Catholic volleyball girls came to an end Thursday night as they got on the court in Danville for the first time this season…
…And now they’ll take 10 days off.
The 4th-ranked Class 1A Crusaders made relatively quick work of the Bears with a 25-12, 25-5, 25-8 win moving to 1-0 on the year.
Danville had two leads on the night, both at 1-0 in the first and third games of the night, but the Crusaders took advantage of some stellar serving from senior Taylor Boeding and a dominant net game from All-State hitter Emily Box.
The 5’11” senior forced the Bears to play up and over most of the night at the net. Box, along with senior Eryn Anderson and newcomer Katie Denning, put up a formidable wall making attacking difficult from the other side of the net.
After Anderson netted the first serve of the night, Danville shanked their first serve and then Boeding, foreshadowing a stellar serving performance in the second game, rattled off five straight serves to give HTC a 6-1 lead. Box had three kills in the stretch. Danville’s Isabella Smith ended the run on a score at 6-2, but the Bears couldn’t keep the serve as Box killed to give it back to the Crusaders.
Sophomore Bailey Hellweg then took advantage of four straight miscues on the Danville side to push HTC’s lead to 10-3, with Smith ending the rally. Danville didn’t get the ball in play on the next serve and HTC’s Mya Lawlor put together three straight points off serves that the Bears couldn’t get back over. At 15-4, the Bears went on a 7-1 run as the Crusaders seemed to get a bit jittery midway through the first game.
Danville’s Avery Boyer and Karleigh Miller, both sophomores, were able to find the floor on the HTC side during the run that ended when Ashlee Duerksen hit a shot long to give the ball back to HTC.
Holy Trinity then got their legs back with a kill from Box at 18-11 and then Boeding took over with serving, hitting a couple aces, running the Bears out of game one with five straight, capped off by a perfect assist to Box who finished the game with a smash to the right corner.
Head Coach Melissa Freesmeier said the Crusaders were a little tight at the beginning.
“We were a little tight I thought in that first game,” she said. “I expected that. We missed that first serve and then had some hitting errors, but I’m happy with the way the match went and I thought we did some really good things we can build on.”
After Box quickly put the first serve of game two by Danville on the floor, Boeding continued from the line and ripped off 14 straight serves, including three aces and had Danville back on its heels trying to figure out a way to stop the run. Denning had a kill in the run, but the Crusaders didn’t get a chance to put their high-octane offense in gear as Danville tried to figure a way to get a side out.
At 15-0, Boeding sent one beyond the line and went to the pre-point huddle with a smile. Danville didn’t get much going the rest of the way as Hellweg, Box, and Katie Scoville put the match away from the service line. Box and Lawlor both had kills in the run as HTC took game two 25-5.
Game three saw more action at the net as Box and Denning went to work defensively as they combined for three blocks as HTC raced to a 14-2 win. Box finished points at 12,13, and 14. Scoville put up three more service points with the help of a kill from Lawlor from the left side of the net at 17-5. Boeding would get in on the action at the net in game three with three straight kills with freshman Kassi Randolph serving to put the Crusaders up 24-8. Box would end the night with a kill on the next point.
With the Tri-State Rodeo following up the Labor Day holiday, the Crusaders are off until Sept. 10 when they host New London at home.
Box said solid serving and Danville’s struggles kept her out of her game frequently during the match.
“These games are always tough because you don’t get a lot of action across the net,” Box said. ” But I just have to be patient and wait for the opportunities, and then be prepared for the games where we do get a lot of action at the net.”
Freesmeier said despite not getting to work the offense as much as she’d have liked, the team didn’t really suffer any slumps.
“We were in our offense when we could be, but our serve kept them off their game,” she said. “We didn’t get a lot chances to attack the ball. But we never had a let down and I was happy with that.”
The Crusaders rotated in Denning, Hellweg, and Randolph, and sophomore Claire Pothitakis throughout the match and Freesmeier said she was happy with the play of her underclassman.
“They’re growing up,” Freesmeier said. “Wev’e been practicing for four weeks now and we needed a game to see where we’re at. They did some really good things that we wanted them to with some big blocks up front and they put the ball in some nice places so we’re just gonna get better.”
Box said she’d rather play again tomorrow, but the 10-day break shouldn’t create a problem.
“We’ve been waiting for this for four weeks, but it seems like forever,” she said. “Getting a small taste of getting a game in, it’s hard not to want to play tomorrow. But we have to wait, keep practicing, and see what comes.”