116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Three years ago, Gillian Gergen was a talented freshman finding her place on a Janesville state championship team.
Now, the first-year captain can close a fantastic prep career with a third state title in four years.
Gergen and the top-ranked Janesville Wildcats will play for the Class 1A state championship after sweeping No. 5 Fort Madison Holy Trinity, 25-17, 25-23, 25-14 in a Class 1A volleyball state tournament semifinal Thursday at the U.S. Cellular Center.
'I am extremely excited to have one last go at it,' Gergen said. 'Senior year, it's been really emotional. I would like to end on a good note.'
Gergen posted 12 kills, five digs and four blocks as Janesville (34-8) eliminated Holy Trinity (36-4) from the state tournament for the third time in four years. In both of the two prior occurrences, the Wildcats claimed a state championship. The teams met in last season's quarterfinal and tussled for the title in 2013.
'Holy Trinity was a great team and had some amazing hitters,' Gergen said. 'We worked really hard to shut them down.'
Janesville plays second-ranked Hudson (35-4) Friday at 7 p.m. The Pirates eliminated Springville in four games in the other 1A semifinal.
After a relatively comfortable first game, Janesville trailed Holy Trinity for most of Game 2, finally achieving an 18-18 tie before closing with 7 of 12 points. The Wildcats pulled away midway through the third game with a 14-4 burst. Sophomore Bree Thompson led the Wildcats with 13 kills, while junior Kennedy Meister added 12 with 12 digs.
'We definitely have a target on our back and they're coming for us, we know,' Meister said. 'So we just have to play our game because I definitely feel that we are very strong and we can beat everybody.'
Lily Liekweg collected 14 digs. Fellow sophomore Alisa Bengen notched 39 assists. With so many underclassmen contributors, it's safe to assume the tradition of excellence will continue once Gergen takes her game to Drake next fall.
'I think we have a lot more chemistry,' Gergen said. 'Everyone is just closer and we play together as a team well. I think it is the chemistry that has gotten us this far.'
Senior Ali Randolph led Holy Trinity with 13 kills and 12 digs. Junior setter Maya Rashid collected 16 assists.
'They're tough players,' Holy Trinity Coach Melissa Freesmeier said of Janesville. 'They've got three, four kids that can swing from a lot of different places. They were really keeping us moving. Just a great team, a great program. They were the better team tonight.'
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