BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
FORT MADISON – It’s been a busy week for the Holy Trinity volleyball team.
Four matches last Saturday in the Keokuk Tournament.
Three matches on Monday in the Crusaders’ own tournament.
Two matches in pool play in the SEI Superconference tournament on Thursday, and more coming in the tournament’s final rounds this Saturday.
“It’s tough,” Holy Trinity coach Melissa Freesmeier said after Thursday’s wins over Lone Tree and Van Buren County. “Every night we’re coming out into a dogfight.”
The Crusaders, who dropped out of the No. 1 spot and fell to No. 3 in the Class 1A rankings that were released Thursday afternoon by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, defeated Lone Tree 25-13, 25-9, then downed Van Buren 25-19, 25-12.
Holy Trinity was coming off a loss to Central Lee on Monday night, and Thursday’s matches were a good way to bounce back.
“I thought we cleaned some things up, things we didn’t do on Monday night. But the kids kept pushing points,” Freesmeier said. “Monday was a little frustrating, but I thought Central Lee played a great match. So we needed to turn it around in two days. I think our kids’ mindset is getting there. We’re starting to do the things we need to do to score points.”
The Crusaders started slowly in the opening match against Lone Tree. They led just 10-9 early, and were up 16-12 before closing the match by scoring nine of the final 10 points. Kassi Randolph had five kills in that final run as Holy Trinity started to figure out the Lions.
That momentum carried into the second game. Holy Trinity raced to an 11-1 lead with a strong start that included four kills by Claire Pothitakis and four by Natalie Randolph. Leading 22-9, the Crusaders closed the match with a kill and a service ace by Kassi Randolph and a kill from Pothitakis.
Van Buren, which swept Lone Tree in the middle match, kept that momentum going into the match against Holy Trinity, racing to an early 10-7 lead. But the Crusaders scored 12 of the next 14 points to settle in and control the rest of the game.
Holy Trinity took an early 8-1 lead in the second game and never relinquished control.
“Van Buren’s got some hitters in there,” Freesmeier said. “We didn’t give up any big runs tonight. We just did the little things to run our offense, get things going.”
Now the Crusaders head into Saturday’s six-team event at Southeastern Community College in West Burlington.
“We need to take care of our side of the net. We need to find the open spots in the defense,” Freesmeier said. “We need to consistently serve aggressively, and keep the ball in play. We need to pass the ball well. If we can do all of those things, we have a good chance.”
Central Lee girls advance
Central Lee won both games in their pool play with wins over Hillcrest 25-9, 25-11, and Notre Dame 25-16, 25-23.
Mya Merschman had 23 kills on the night and nine blocks. Abby Wellman had 13 kills and 15 digs for the Lady Hawks. Macy Watkins had 71 assists in the four sets.
Holy Trinity will get a bye in the first round on Saturday as the No. 1 seed. New London will also get a bye as the No. 2 seed. The Tigers will face the winner of WACO (17-1), who popped into the top 15 at No. 13 in Class A, and Central Lee. WACO is 3rd seed and Central Lee is the 6th.
HTC will await the winner of 4th-seed Winfield Mt. Union and 5th seed West Burlington. That match starts the bracket at 4 p.m.