BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – “These girls are better than they think they are,” said Holy Trinity Catholic girls volleyball coach Melissa Freesmeier Tuesday night.
Freesmeier was all kinds of fired up after her Crusaders erased a loss in the first game of their match with Burlington Notre Dame and came back to win 3-1.
The normally docile Freesmeier, entering her 27th year as a head coach, was as animated on the sidelines as she’s ever been motivating an HTC squad that lost to New London Thursday in four games.
“You know I’ve told myself I’m going to be calm. These kids need me to be calm… these kids need me to be calm, but I’m not going to be calm anymore. These kids can handle it,” Freesmeier said.
“These are some kids with some heart and are some that are competitive but it’s deep down inside them. We’re gonna bring it out and we’re gonna play some volleyball.”
The first game was loaded with errors for the Crusaders but they managed to come from three and four points down on several occasions and had tied the score at 20, but the Nikes went on a 3-0 run to be two points away. HTC battled back to 22, but Notre Dame would get the next two points for the win.
In the second game, HTC found themselves down 14-11 and then senior Maille Sheerin came to the service line. With Freesmeier calling spots from behind her clipboard, Sheerin began methodically dissecting the Nike front and back defense moving the ball around and five points later HTC was back in front 16-14.
HTC would seize on the momentum shift and run out to a 25-18 win in the second game.
“She did great,” Freesmeier said of Sheerin’s timely service points.
“She was hitting her spots and was on point. We were mixing things up and trying to get them in a daze. We went deep and then short and they weren’t sure where she was going to go, and Maille has such a great serve.”
In the third game, the two squads battled through about six ties with HTC pulling away down the stretch on some Nike errors. It seemed the Nikes lost of a bit of their mojo in the fourth game after starting up 2-0.
HTC went on a run and was up 7-2 before Notre Dame could regain their footing, but the Crusaders sensed the win coming and pulled away for a 25-13 win.
Freesmeier said she was happy with the way the girls battled back, not only from the first game loss, but the loss at New London last week.
“Look at game one – errors… errors….errors. But then look at the heart out there. Our kids were on the floor diving for stuff, they weren’t letting anything hit the floor. I got to give our kids credit they came out and did a great job tonight, she said.”
“Notre Dame’s gonna win a lot of volleyball games this year and we’re going to have to play them a couple more times so we just gotta be on our game all the time. But that’s fun though, that’s volleyball.”
On the night, Sheerin was 25 of 25 with five aces and 16 digs to lead Holy Trinity. Claire Pothitakis was 24 of 33 attacking with 17 kills including a fourth game where she went 12 of 14 with four kills as the Crusaders pulled away.
Kassi Randolph and Bailey Hellweg combined for 36 sets in the four games.
The Crusaders are off until Saturday when they travel to the Keokuk Invitational Tourney starting at 9 a.m.