Janesville will play for 3rd straight state volleyball crown

1A semifinal: No. 1 Wildcats slow state's leading hitter, sweep Holy Trinity

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Perfection is an unreasonable expectation.

But, Melissa Freesmeier acknowledged, something close to that was a necessity to derail Janesville.

“Absolutely,” she said. “We knew that coming in. We weren’t going to be able to make mistakes, and we did, and they capitalized.”

Top-ranked Janesville took another step toward a third straight small-school championship, sweeping Freesmeier’s fifth-rated Fort Madison Holy Trinity club, 25-17, 25-20, 25-19, in a Class 1A semifinal at the state volleyball tournament Thursday night at the U.S. Cellular Center.

The Wildcats (36-7) successfully neutralized the state’s leading hitter, holding Holy Trinity’s Emily Box to 14 kills. As a result, they’ll play for the 1A title at 7 p.m. Friday against No. 3 LeMars Gehlen (29-6), a five-set survivor against No. 2 Springville.

“We knew we needed to slow (Box) down,” Janesville’s Bree Thompson said. “We had to have a double block on her every single time.”

Janesville seized the lead early in each set and beat Holy Trinity for the fifth time here since 2011.

Thompson posted 23 kills, and Janesville enjoyed a 51-29 advantage in that category. The Wildcats hit a healthy .312. Kennedy Meister added 12 kills, and Alisa Bengen recorded 45 assists.

“We knew we had to come out, be strong and play our game,” Meister said.

“Getting back to the finals, it’s been our goal since we left here last year. To win it for the third year in a row would be amazing.”

A 5-foot-11 junior, Box entered the match averaging 6.11 kills per set, but managed just one in the first set Thursday. She did accelerate somewhat as the match progressed, putting the ball down five times in Game 2 and eight times in the finale.

Holy Trinity’s best shot came in Game 3. The Crusaders led 17-16, but Janesville closed with a 9-2 run to advance.

“They’re a good ball club,” Freesmeier said of the Wildcats. “We did some good things tonight, but we didn’t play perfect enough to win.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

Watch: Class 1A semifinal highlights


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