Crusaders’ run ends at state semis

Your 2021 State Class 1A Volleyball semifinalist Holy Trinity Crusaders.

Nikes win 26-24, 26-24, 27-25 to kill HTC’s state title hopes

BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
PCC SPORTS

CEDAR RAPIDS — It was a triple dose of frustration that ended Holy Trinity’s run at the Class 1A state volleyball tournament.

The 26-24, 26-24, 27-25 loss to SEI Superconference South Division rival Notre Dame was a bitter finish to the season for the Crusaders, who made it back to the Alliant Energy PowerHouse after missing last season’s tournament.

It was a sweep that didn’t feel like one.

FREESMEIER

“When it said at the end of the match that Notre Dame won 3-0, that’s not how I see it,” Holy Trinity coach Melissa Freesmeier said. “We just came up a few points short.”

The Crusaders (33-11) had game points in the second and third games, and couldn’t finish off the Nikes (37-8), who advanced to Thursday’s championship match against Springville.

Sophomore Natalie Randolph goes up for an attack in the first set of the Crusaders’ 3-set loss to Burlington Notre Dame in the Class 1A state volleyball championship semifinals Wednesday night. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC
K. RANDOLPH

“This was a tough loss,” said senior Kassi Randolph. “But to come this far, it was a great accomplishment. We had a great season, so it’s nothing to look down upon.”

“It was really frustrating,” senior libero Anna Sobczak said. “But we put up a fight.”

The Nikes, who ended the Crusaders’ 10-year state tournament run last season with a win in the regional semifinals on the way to the state championship, found just enough points in the closing moments of each game.

Holy Trinity’s Reagen Holvoet puts up a block on Notre Dame’s Abby Korschgen in early action Wednesday night. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

The losses in the first two games hit the Crusaders hard.

“We knew it was going to be a dogfight coming back,” Sobczak said. “But we knew we had to do it because there was no other option.”

That option seemed to be dwindling when Notre Dame took a 15-6 lead.

“We thought it was the last chance to put together everything we had,” Sobczak said.

Slowly the Crusaders cut into the margin. Down 21-20, they ran off four consecutive points, the last on a block by Kayla Box, and suddenly it was game point.

Notre Dame then scored four consecutive points, and had match point before a kill by Natalie Randolph kept the Crusaders in the match.

A kill from Abby Korschgen gave the Nikes a 26-25 edge. The final point was a tip that just escaped the dive of Kassi Randolph, and the Crusaders’ season was over.

“It just showed how determined we are,” Kassi Randolph said. “We never want to give up. We wanted to be very aggressive, and play our game. Once we started to string together a few points, we felt it. We started to come together.”

“It’s just how much of a drive we have to win, how much we have to push ourselves,” Natalie Randolph said.

“It’s just a never-say-die that’s in their heads,” Freesmeier said. “They were going to keep pushing. They just continued to put the pressure on them.”

Brooke Mueller (23) tries to tap an attack through the Nikes’ defense in the second set Wednesday in Cedar Rapids. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

Sobczak and Kassi Randolph were the only seniors on this year’s team.

“It’s tough,” Kassi Randolph said. “I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. Maybe tomorrow. We went out close. It’s really hard to grasp.”

“I’m just really excited I got to be here and experience it in my senior year,” Sobczak said.

“I know there’s only two of them, but they’re going to be missed next year,” Freesmeier said. “Because they’re superstars.”

KILLS
Mary Kate Bendlage 10, Natalie Randolph 8, Kassi Randolph 7, Brooke Mueller 4, Reagan Holvoet 2, Kayla Box 1.

ASSISTS
Kassi Randolph 14, Anna Sobczak 6, Natalie Randolph 5, Reagan Holvoet 1, Brooke Mueller 1, Teagan Snaadt 1.

DIGS
Mary Kate Bendlage 14, Natalie Randolph 13, Anna Sobczak 13, Kassi Randolph 11, Teagan Snaadt 9, Brooke Mueller 6, Alexa Dingman 4, Kayla Box 1, Reagan Holvoet 1, Teagan Denning 1.

BLOCKS
Kayla Box 1 solo, 3 assists; Natalie Randolph 2 assists, Kassi Randolph 1 assist.

HTC Assistant coach Tom Gendron consoles senior Kassi Randolph, right, and sister sophomore Natalie Randolph after the Nikes ended the Crusaders’ season in three-sets Wednesday in Cedar Rapids. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

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