Tigers send No. 5 HTC home in four sets

BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
PCC SPORTS

NEW LONDON — Hit after hit was sailing out of bounds, and Holy Trinity volleyball coach Melissa Freesmeier felt helpless.

The Crusaders’ four-game loss to New London on Thursday night was built in an erratic first set, one that gave the Tigers control.

Holy Trinity, which moved up one spot in the IGHSAU Class 1A rankings to No. 5 earlier in the day, fell behind early in the 25-18, 25-20, 17-25, 25-22 loss to the Tigers.

“We made a lot of errors,” Freesmeier said. “A lot of hitting errors, a lot of service errors. And you can’t have that. You come into this gym, you’ve got to be on your game.”

New London (9-2) won its fifth consecutive match.

“I think we were able to … I don’t know if I dare say the word … but maybe frazzle them a little bit,” New London coach Maureen Heath said. “I don’t even know whether to say that, because they don’t get frazzled often.”

Holy Trinity (5-3) had a 5-3 lead in the first game, then New London scored 12 of the next 16 points to gain command. Alexa Wenger had two kills in that run, but seven of the points came on the Crusaders’ errors.

“That’s tough,” Freesmeier said. “You can’t do anything about it. You’re there on the bench and you’re like, ‘OK, tone it down.’”

Holy Trinity got to within 19-16, but a 5-0 run from the Tigers, led by three kills from Addie Pry, helped finish the game.

New London led most of Game 2, and when a kill attempt by Holy Trinity’s Claire Pothitakis went out of bounds, the Tigers seemed poised for a sweep.

“You’ve got to win that first game, it’s so tough to come back if you don’t,” Heath said. “That did set the tone and did give us confidence. And then to win Game 2, oh my gosh.”

“We dug ourselves a hole early,” Freesmeier said. “We had our opportunities in Game 2, and never capitalized. I don’t think we ever really got going.”

Holy Trinity freshman Brooke Mueller helped seal the win in the third game, with four kills after New London got to within 16-12.

“Game 3, we came in, settled in,” Freesmeier said. “Our defense did some great things keeping the ball alive, things like that.”

Holy Trinity built an 11-8 lead in the fourth game, then the Tigers began controlling the net. Freshman Keaura Williams had three kills after the Crusaders got to within 16-15, and her last kill of the night gave New London a 22-20 edge.

Pry’s kill on match point set off the Tigers’ celebration.

“To win that tight fourth game … I think we played hard enough to win tonight,” Heath said.

“It seemed like they had a response for what we did,” Freesmeier said.

Kassi Randolph led Holy Trinity with 17 kills and 25 assists. Pothitakis had 14 kills and Mueller had 11. Maria Rauenbuehler had 25 digs, while Mollie Sheerin had 19. Ali Robu had five blocks, while Katie Denning had four.

“We’re young,” Freesmeier said. “We go back to the gym tomorrow, and see what we learn from it.”

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