Prep Volleyball

Janesville's senior nucleus makes it 4-for-4 at state volleyball

Wildcats foil Holy Trinity again, win another 1A title

CEDAR RAPIDS — Janesville remains the shiniest jewel in the world of Iowa small-school volleyball.

All-tournament captain Bree Thompson put away 19 kills, and the top-ranked Wildcats swept No. 3 Fort Madison Holy Trinity, 25-16, 25-14, 25-22, for their fourth consecutive Class 1A state championship Friday night at the U.S. Cellular Center.

“It’s really cool to be a four-time champion,” Thompson said. “When we came in here, we set our goals super, super high.”

The Wildcats (46-5) swept their way through the state tournament, not losing as much as a set, for the third straight year. They haven’t lost to a 1A opponent since the 2014 state semifinals.

And they’ve consistently foiled Holy Trinity, a 1A giant in its own right.

Janesville bested Holy Trinity at state for the sixth time, all in the past eight years. The Wildcats ousted the Crusaders in the championship match in 2013 and 2018, the semifinals in 2016 and 2017, the quarterfinals in 2011 and 2015.

“They’re great,” Holy Trinity Coach Melissa Freesmeier said. “They have Bree Thompson, and she’s a great player. She’s really tough.

“And tonight, we never really got our offense started.”

Thompson, a 5-foot-11 outside hitter bound for Lipscomb University, almost out-killed the Crusaders (37-4) by herself. The Wildcats posted a 50-20 advantage in kills.

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Alisa Bengen added 13 kills. She and Wichita State recruit Lily Liekweg (28 digs) joined Thompson on the all-tournament team.

So did Holy Trinity’s Emily Box and Eryn Anderson, Le Mars Gehlen’s Katie Peters and Tripoli’s Zoe Semelroth.

Janesville cruised through the first two sets. The third was another story.

Holy Trinity held a 21-18 lead in the finale before the Wildcats raced back. Bailey Hoff’s kill put Janesville in front, 22-21. After Anderson’s kill tied it at 22-all, the Wildcats finished it off with a kill by Julia Meister, a Crusaders attack error and a closing kill by Bengen.

Thompson, Bengen and Liekweg headline a six-senior nucleus that posted a 146-34 four-year mark.

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

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