DANVILLE — Anna Bendlage wants accuracy on her serves.
The Holy Trinity junior hit her spots in Thursday’s opening round of the SEI Superconference tournament.
Bendlage was 31-of-32 serving with 14 aces as the Crusaders swept their three matches to advance to Saturday’s eight-team final night.
Holy Trinity, which moved up to No. 2 in the Class 1A state rankings earlier in the day, defeated Lone Tree (21-5, 21-8), Winfield-Mount Union (21-5, 21-11) and Danville (21-10, 21-10). Other than falling behind in the second set to Danville, the Crusaders were efficient in their approach.
“I think we knew we could take care of business, it was just a matter of doing it tonight,” Bendlage said. “I think we did really well.”
“We looked good,” Holy Trinity coach Melissa Freesmeier said. “Didn’t give up a lot of big runs. Maybe we had a few mistakes, but you’re not going to get perfection. But I was happy with the way they just kept working, point by point.”
Bendlage — who added six kills, 17 assists and 11 digs — led the way on a night when the Crusaders had just five service errors.
“I think I really just focused on hitting my spots,” she said. “I serve really aggressively in practice, but not always in games, just because my goal is to just get it over. Tonight I wanted to serve more aggressively.”
“She’s got that left hand,” Freesmeier said. “And that left hand has a different spin on it. She’s got a lot of movement on the ball.”
Bendlage said serving is a top priority during the Crusaders’ practices.
“Over time, in practice, I’ve learned how to serve more aggressively and get the ball when I need it to go,” Bendlage said.
That’s usually directed by Freesmeier, signaling behind her omnipresent folder.
“I think I’m pretty accurate,” Bendlage said, smiling. “Tonight I was really good at it. She knows exactly where to put the ball, and I was able to hit those spots.”
It was a night when every Crusader who played was successful with the serves. Taegan Denning (13-13, 1 ace), Adalyn Kruse (11-11, 2 aces), and Jenna Hellman (5-5, 1 ace) were perfect. Mary Kate Bendlage was 9-of-10 with three aces. Presley Myers was 23-of-25 with 3 aces. Natalie Randolph was 20-of-21 with one ace.
Mary Kate Bendlage led the Crusaders with 19 kills and added 10 digs and two blocks. Kruse had 10 kills and a team-high eight blocks. Myers had 14 kills, four digs and a block. Randolph had eight kills, 27 assists and 13 digs. Denning had two kills and 11 digs. Teagan Snaadt had 27 digs and five assists.
Now it’s on to Saturday, when the Crusaders will be the top seed.
“We’re just hoping we can do the little things and take care of our side of the net,” Freesmeier said. “We’re going to be challenged all night — there’s great defense in all of those teams. We’ve seen them game in and game out, so we know what our challenge will be.”