Fort Madison goes 0-3 but shows improvement as regular season comes to end
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
MEDIAPOLIS – Holy Trinity survived an early scare from Class 3A No. 11 Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont to go 3-0 at the annual Mediapolis Invitational Thursday night.
The Crusaders, ranked 5th in Class 1A, took the first set from the Rockets in a tight match that saw ties at points 15-19. EBF took a three-point lead at 23-20 before they got a case of the yips and recorded three straight errors to let HTC close the gap.
Whitney Klyn recorded a kill to make it 24-23, but another defensive error tied things back up at 24. HTC’s Natalie Randolph would score on an attack from the right side following a sideout by EBF. Molly Shaker would score on a crosscourt kill from the left, but then would go wide to tie things back up at 26. After a Rocket timeout, Reagan Holvoet and Mary Kate Bendlage would go to work on back-to-back kills to take the first set 28-26.
EBF would win the second set 25-21. HTC had recovered from a 5-point deficit at 9-14 to tie things up at 20, but the Rockets would close the set with a 5-1 run on some inaccuracies on the HTC side attacking.
The Crusaders would rally in the tiebreakers, never giving up the lead, after jumping out to a 3-1 advantage early on. EBF would fight back for ties at 3 and 4, but HTC would pull away with a 7-1 run with Teagan Denning scoring four of the points including an ace. Randolph would get the kill again from the right side down the line to wrap up the match 15-8.
HTC (26-8) would then roll past Fort Madison 25-15, 25-18, and knock off Mediapolis in the final match of the round-robin style event 25-6, 25-15.
Fort Madison lost to Mediapolis to open play 25-17, but then took the second set 25-21 due, in part to a quick start with Lauryn Helmick serving five straight to open up a 6-2 lead. Alaina Simpson had three kills in the run. Mediapolis wouldn’t get closer than five at 19-14 before the Hounds ran away at 25-19.
Mediapolis would win the tiebreaker despite Fort Madison’s 4-1 lead. A kill from Hanna Wagenbach closed the gap to 4-2 and then three Hound errors worked a tie at 5-5. The two would knot up again at 7 and then the Bulldogs would go on an 8-2 run for a 15-11 win to get the match.
The Hounds would fall to EBF 25-19, 25-16 to end the night.
Simpson had 20 kills on the night for Fort Madison. Anna Lynk had 10 kills and five aces. Molly Knipe had six aces, 31 assists, and 22 digs, while Madison Pirri had 25 digs and served 12-13 with three aces.
Head Coach Kelly Knustrom said the Hounds had one of their better nights of the year staying in at least one set in all three matches.
“I felt like we just played really consistent. We’ve been working in practice on trying to win two of every three points. That’s our mindset going into the post-season – not giving up a lot of points in a row. We did that tonight and I’m really proud of the girls for that,” she said.
The Hounds open regional play Tuesday at Solon. Knustrom said the girls have progressed through the regular season.
“I think they have grown tremendously. I’m going to focus on the little victories,” she said.
“One thing I noticed tonight is we let balls go out that were going out. In the beginning of the season we tried to play everything. So little things like that they are doing very well that go unnoticed by a lot of people. Our timing is getting better and we’re getting touches.”
Freesmeier said the Crusaders were able to get Holvoet back fully Thursday night after an injury had sidelined her.
“She was there at Central Lee, where we worked her in sparingly, but she played well at the net tonight,” Freesmeier said.
The wins were just what the Crusaders needed after Tuesday’s loss at Central Lee.
“We just took one point at a time tonight. Got down 9-3 in set 1, but we never looked defeated. The girls were like, ‘Let’s go’. But Eddyville is a great team and they gave us a good start,” Freesmeier said.
“I like what I saw tonight. We eliminated a lot of the errors while staying aggressive.”
Holy Trinity travels to Knoxville this weekend for a Saturday tournament before opening Class 1 Regional action Wednesday after getting a bye in the first round Monday night.