Prep Volleyball

State volleyball regular Holy Trinity sidelines Montezuma

Experience helps Crusaders advance to 1A semifinals

CEDAR RAPIDS — On the court and on the bench, Fort Madison Holy Trinity enjoyed a big advantage in state-tournament experience.

“We knew it would help in the long run,” Holy Trinity’s Emily Box said. “I remember my freshman year, all the nerves I had here. Now we have a few girls that have played here before, and I think that really pulled us ahead.”

The tournament regular handled the tournament rookie; third-ranked Holy Trinity swept No. 7 Montezuma, 25-22, 26-24, 25-17, in a Class 1A state quarterfinal Wednesday night at the U.S. Cellular Center.

A semifinalist last year, Holy Trinity (36-3) is here for the ninth consecutive year.

“Obviously, that was a part of it,” first-year Montezuma coach Katie Dunlap said after the Bravettes (30-7) closed out their state-tournament debut. “It’s not just the kids. I wish I had 15 years of experience and knew what to change and what to switch.

“But at the end of the day, the kids played hard and I’m proud of them.”

Holy Trinity will face No. 2 Le Mars Gehlen (28-4) in a semifinal at 6 p.m. Thursday. While Dunlap is just getting started, Crusaders Coach Melissa Freesmeier has her team here for the 17th time and has accumulated more than 900 career victories.

The Bravettes stayed right with the Crusaders for most of the first two sets. Montezuma held a 19-16 advantage in the opener, before three errors were involved in a five-point Holy Trinity run that put the Crusaders ahead to stay.

In Game 2, Montezuma rallied from an 11-3 deficit to forge ties at 19, 20, 21, 23 and 24.

“We were always in it,” Montezuma’s Riley Gatton said. “Our attitude was always positive.”

But a Bravettes error and a Box kill at the end gave the Crusaders a two-set advantage.

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“The first set, we had to get the nerves out,” Box said. “The second set, we got a little too comfortable and let them back in it.

“The third set, we went out and took it.”

Holy Trinity got up 8-2 in the finale, and kept control throughout.

Box led all attackers with 16 kills. Gatton paced Montezuma with 15, and Shateah Wetering added 12.

Montezuma held a 42-38 advantage in kills, but committed 26 attack errors, compared to 16 for the Crusaders.

Still, it was a watershed season for the Bravettes.

“We all did it together,” said Wetering, a junior who has committed to play women’s basketball at the University of Iowa. “There’s not one of us that’s going to have our heads down.”

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

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