BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Holy Trinity volleyball team battled through a tough 2nd set against 11th-ranked Class 2A Van Buren at Shottenkirk Gym Thursday.
The Crusaders, still ranked #4 in Class 1A with today’s new rankings, knocked off the Warriors 25-11, 25-20, 25-14 to improve to 4-0 on the year without yet dropping a set to any opponent. A perfect 12-0 on the year. That run will be put to the test on Saturday and Monday when the Crusaders play in the Keokuk Invitational and then host the Holy Trinity Classic, which is always a wild ride at Shottenkirk Gymnasium, on Monday.
HTC found themselves down to Van Buren in the early going of the first set, but worked back to a 4-4 tie. The two teams would trade points to a 7-7 tie before HTC went on a 6-0 run sparked by a Claire Pothitakis kill to get a side out, which put freshman Kassie Randolph at the service line. Holy Trinity scored right away when Van Buren’s Taryn Sheuermann’s attack sailed long. Then Randolph plugged three straight aces to push HTC to a 12-7 lead.
Senior Emily Box got a big block at 15-8 to force a Van Buren timeout, but the Crusaders kept the pedal down and pulled away for the 25-11 first set win on a kill by Box.
The second set turned into a marathon with Van Buren going up by as much as 4 in the early going at 3-7. The two teams would tie six times in the set with the last one coming at 14-all. HTC opened up a 21-18 lead on a kill by sophomore Katie Denning, but Van Buren would fight back to within two at 22-20 when senior Eryn Anderson’s attack sailed over the back line. Senior Taylor Boeding would pick her up with a kill from the far left side on the next Van Buren service.
The Warriors’ Chloe Davidson went long her next attack and a defensive error of Boeding’s set point serve gave the game to the Crusaders.
Anderson would go a little crazy in game three with four kills, two of which hit the net, and threw Van Buren’s block off as well as a couple blocks of her own to help the Crusaders to the 25-14 win. Randolph would get three more aces on 10-11 serving in the third game to take the wind out of the Warriors’ sails.
Randolph sizzled from the service line going 19-20 with eight aces to compliment sophomore Bailey Hellweg’s 21-of-21 serving night with two aces. Senior Elyse Pothitakis had 24 digs from the back row libero spot on defense.
Box continues to dominate play at the net and routinely ended long rallies with kills throughout the match. Box had 13 kills on 24 of 27 attacks. Junior Taylor Boeding had eight kills on 19-22 hitting.
Head Coach Melissa Freesmeier said the girls get ramped up for the ranked teams.
“That’s what we play for,” she said. “After Notre Dame, I didn’t think we played very well. We just mentally weren’t in it. But tonight the kids were in it. The kids came off the bench to do their job. Everyone on the bench and on the court were in every point, and we need that, especially in a game like this because everyone’s out to get us.”
Van Buren’s junior Salena Sayre, gave the Crusaders some fits with powerful corner attacks that found the floor in the early going and in the second set. Freesmeier said she moved to try and slow her down.
“We just tried to get her blocked in and slow her down and that helped our defense out because I didn’t think we did a very good job of that early on. When we moved the block over we started getting touches on her attack and that helped the defense.”
With the tournament on Saturday and the classic two days later, Freesmeier said it’s definitely a busy schedule.
“This is what we got to do. We haven’t played much yet so, the games are the fun part,” she said.
“And they’d much rather be in a tournament than practicing with me. I’m just happy with the way we’re coming together and it looked like we did that tonight and did some really good things.”