West Burlington celebrates victory over Holy Trinity on Tuesday in West Burlington
West Burlington, ranked ninth in Class 3A, celebrates a sweep of Holy Trinity, ranked fifth in Class 1A, on Tuesday in West Burlington
Matt Levins, Falcon’s Eye
With a chance to stay in the hunt for the SEI Superconference South Division title on the line, West Burlington High School volleyball coach Maureen Heath knew she had to come up with a special game plan.
Heath, whose teams have always been known for their stellar defense, has found the perfect strategy.
His team then came out and performed it to perfection.
West Burlington, ninth in Class 3A, put in a solid block and strong right-side defense to secure a 25-22, 25-20, 25-23 victory over Holy Trinity, fifth in Class 1A, in a game from the South Division Tuesday at West Burlington High School.
After seeing his team lose to the Crusaders in the semi-finals of the SEI Superconference tournament nine days earlier, Heath made all the necessary adjustments to put his team in position to win.
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“It’s super huge because obviously we lost against them in the SEISC tournament. We wanted to come back and beat them, ”said Sophia Armstrong, the West Burlington junior midfielder, who had 15 kills and seven blocks. “Last time around, I think we just didn’t play together. Today we played more as a team. and I think that made all the difference.
“It was a big win,” said West Burlington junior forward McKenna Marlow, who had nine kills and 22 digs. “We were ninth in the state and they were fifth. I think it was a really big game for us. It is obviously a very good team. They have their defense down, their attack down. But we came out strong. We knew it was a big game for us and we were ready to play.
“It was a big conference victory for us,” said Heath. “I think we prepared well for that. I thought the girls were focused. We got a little nervous in the first game, those first five points. Then we kind of settled in after that. definitely had a defensive game plan against them. I think our blockers did a great job and our right side defense knocked out the lefty on the right side. I think we served really well. We had a serve strategy. in the lead and it worked for us. It’s a huge win for us. “
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Armstrong entered the match second in Class 3A overall, needing just 12 to surpass the school career record set in 2008 by Ariel Bloomberg.
Armstrong added seven more to her total, while teammate Taryn Havener had five and Isabelle Ritter and Grace Hoenig had four each. The Falcons had 22 blocks on the night, which wreaked havoc with the Crusaders hitters.
“Everyone was blocking well. Taryn and Grace have done really well. Abbey (Bence) and McKenna. Everyone, I think, had a few blocks. I think it was huge, “Armstrong said.” They had to move their strikes, which I think they weren’t expecting. When we played them at CSC, we didn’t play to our full potential. “
“The blockage was incredible,” said Marlow, who had two blocks. “We worked on our block because we had to learn how to block those right sides. Our blockage was exceptional this evening. Sophia has done wonders tonight. Grace, Taryn and Isabella… we all did an amazing job. It was very successful. “
“We didn’t get those blocks when they put the ball back to our side of the net,” said Holy Trinity head coach Melissa Freesmeier.
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“I think we’re a great blocking team,” said Heath. “Sophia has always been strong and our young central blocker (Havener) really stepped up her efforts tonight. I’m really excited for her. She has the potential. She just needs to keep getting the experience.
Defense, defense, defense
The Falcons entered the No.1 Class 3A game in the digs, led by Lauren Summers, who is individually fifth. Holy Trinity sophomore Natalie Randolph gave the Falcons fits with her left hand strike in the teams ‘first meeting, so Heath adjusted the Falcons’ defense.
The result: West Burlington had 82 digs on the night, while Randolph had just six kills, one less than she had in the Crusaders’ straight set victory in the SEI tournament Superconference.
“Natalie Randolph is a southpaw hitter and she can hit lines and she can hit crosses,” said Marlow. “She’s left-handed and it’s different. I think she’s one of the only left-handed hitters in our conference so we had to change our defense to the right side in order to let her hits go and we also had to hit. different serve points, they have great defense at the back and they know how to pass a serve ball, so we had to do something new.
“We changed our block and identified our defense to get his ball back,” said Heath. “I think we forced them to take the ball out a lot more on the outside. We tried to play defense on the outside.
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“She’ll be fine,” Freesmeier said of Randolph. “We are also going to make some adjustments in training (Wednesday) and prepare for our next opponent on Thursday night.”
The Crusaders Look Out Successfully
With the Falcons focusing on Randolph, it opened things up for second outside hitter Mary Kate Bendlage and junior Brooke Mueller. Bendlage had 10 kills and Mueller had nine to keep the Crusaders close in all three sets.
“It started off slow, but then it caught fire. She took the ball high in her hands, She made the ball move. She did a great job for us, ”Freesmeier said of Bendlage. “(Mueller) is really good at using blocks from the other team, finding some free space on the floor. She was back in transition and she was able to fly balloon. and do that. I thought our exteriors looked good tonight. “
On the horizon
Holy Trinity (19-5 overall, 4-2 in the South Division) welcomes Cardinal on Thursday, then takes part in the Pella tournament on Saturday. The Crusaders will face Iowa City Liberty, top ranked in Class 5A, Bondurant-Farrar, ranked eighth and Pella, ranked 10th, as well as Mediapolis and Knoxville.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” Freesmeier said. “These games will set us up for the playoffs. It was a good night all around.”
West Burlington (26-2, 6-0) travel to Thursday to play New London, ranked 12th in Class 1A, before welcoming Notre Dame, top ranked in Class 1A, on Tuesday.
“I take it one at a time,” Heath said. “We’re up against a totally different team (Thursday) than what we played tonight. You have to prepare and get up there and hopefully be ready to go.”
West Burlington scores point for victory over Holy Trinity on Tuesday
West Burlington, ranked ninth in Class 3A, finished a sweep of Holy Trinity, ranked fifth in Class 1A, in West Burlington on Tuesday
Matt Levins, Falcon’s Eye
Kill – Mary Kate Bendlage 10, Brooke Mueller 9, Natalie Randolph 6, Kassi Randolph 4, Kayla Box 4, Teagan Denning 1
Help – K. Randolph 15, N. Randolph 14, Anna Sobczak 2
To serve – Sobczak 12-12, K. Randolph 10-10, Alexa Dingman 4-4, Mueller 13-14 (1 ace), Denning 12-13 (3 ace), N. Randolph 7-8, Bendlage 2-4, Laura Mehmert 1-3 (1 ace)
Blocks – Box 4, N. Randolph 2, K. Randolph 1, Denning 1, Bendlage 1
Excavations – Sobczak 23, Teagan Snaadt 11, Denning 8, K. Randolph 7, N. Randolph 6, Bendlage 6, Mueller 5, Box 1
Kill – Sophia Armstrong 15, McKenna Marlow 9, Taryn Havener 7, Abbey Bence 3, Grace Hoenig 3, Isabelle Ritter 2, Ale Kellen 1
Help – Bence 31, Kellen 3, Lauren Summers 1, Armstrongf 1, Marlow 1
To serve – Bella Blaufuss 12-12, Bence 20-21 (1 ace), Marlow 9-10, Summers 7-8 (1 ace), Kellen 6-7, Carli Cline 12-14 (1 ace)
Blocks – Armstrong 7, Havener 5, Ritter 4, Hoenig 4, Marlow 2
Excavations – Marlow 22, Summers 16, Blaufuss 10, Cline 8, Bence 7, Hoenig 5, Ritter 2, Havener 2
Recordings – Holy Trinity