Coralville- Xtream Arena will be exhibiting some of the best high school volleyball that Iowa has to offer with two teams attempting to finish the season undefeated (Class 4A-Clear Creek-Amana and Class 2A-Dike-New Hartford), strong offenses, and stingy defenses highlighting the end of the 2023 season.
Southeast Iowa will be represented by #3 Holy Trinity Catholic, an example of one of the strong offenses that will be on display. Head Coach Melissa Freesmeier, in her 16th trip to state with the Crusaders, knows her back row will have to play well to allow her attackers to thrive:
“[Team’s strength] Our offense, but we can’t do that without the people behind us digging the ball and serve receiving; so, I think that the glue to this team is everybody doing their job and sticking together and this group is pretty big part of that.”
Plenty of reason to believe the Crusaders will be able to succeed with Teagan Snaadt and Mary Kate Bendlage ranked in the top 20 in Class 1A in digs.
Mary Kate Bendlage, who logged her 1,000th career kill against Burlington Notre Dame, and Presley Myers, who’s ranked 6th in Class 1A in kill efficiency, will look to lead the offense as they have tallied at least 9 kills in each playoff game this season.
Denning has played phenomenally this postseason and presents another threat at the net for the Crusaders. Natalie Randolph and Anna Bendlage will look to feed their hitters.
The X-factor to this team is terrific play from one of their freshmen, Adalyn Kruse. She’s been slamming the ball back in the face of the opposition as she has totaled 74 total blocks on the season.
#6 Don Bosco will be the Crusader’s opponent in the quarterfinal round tonight at 8:25 pm. The Dons were defeated last season in the quarterfinal by the eventual state champion, Ankeny Christian.
Don Bosco has a couple of names to look for near the net with Kennedi McGarvey leading the team with 339 kills followed closely by Alexis Even with 327 kills. Emily Naughton leads the team in total blocks with 62, while having the third most kills with 245.
Addison Schares ranks #1 in Class 1A with 971 assists to go along with her 30 aces from the service line.
The problem for Holy Trinity Catholic is Don Bosco comes into the game on a hot streak, having won six straight without dropping a set. A 12-5 record in the month of October for the Dons means this team is playing their best volleyball when it matters most.
All that to say, the last time Holy Trinity Catholic won the state tournament was back in 2014 with a senior phenom Mikaela Foecke Richter.
Richter is now an assistant coach for the Crusaders and will be inducted into the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union Volleyball Hall of Fame on Thursday, November 2nd, before the Class 1A championship match.
So, with excellent volleyball on display this week at Xtream Arena; perhaps, destiny will play a role into whether the Crusaders will have a truly special week in Coralville.
KILJ 105.5 FM, kilj.com, will follow Holy Trinity Catholic’s run through the state tournament with a live call tonight. The pregame show is scheduled for 8:05 pm.