CEDAR RAPIDS — Holy Trinity defeated St. Albert in four sets Wednesday (25-16, 25-23, 19-25, 25-15), ending the Saintes’ season in the Class 1-A quarterfinals of the state tournament at the US Cellular Center.
St. Albert finished the season with a 24-10 record. Holy Trinity (29-10) will play in the semifinals Thursday against Wapsie Valley.
After dropping the first two sets, St. Albert charged back to win set three. Holy Trinity jumped out to a big lead early in the fourth set before finally closing out the match, 25-15.
“We felt really good coming in with how we’ve been playing,” St. Albert coach Angie Lantz said. “We suffered the same fate as a lot of teams their first set. It’s a big experience to get out here and just calm your nerves down.”
St. Albert began gaining momentum toward the end of the second set. Sophomore Lauren Williams recorded almost half of her 16 kills in set two.
“I knew my team would help me get to where I am,” Williams said. “Without them, the seniors pushing me, I wouldn’t be able to get where I am.”
Allie Petry had a monster kill from the back row to help St. Albert lead 17-14 in set two. After Holy Trinity regained the lead, Lainey Sheffield served an ace, followed by a dig from Jordyn Blaha and a kill from Petry.
“I think we played our hearts out,” Petry said. “We didn’t get the outcome we wanted, but we fought till the very end. We did it for our seniors, it just didn’t go our way. We weren’t playing our game the best we could.”
Thanks to a surprise hit at the net from senior Olivia Barnes, then a kill from Williams, the set was tied 23-23. Holy Trinity managed the next two points to win set two.
St. Albert kept the momentum going in the third set, winning 25-19. With Holy Trinity leading 17-16, the Saintes went on a mini-run to go up five points (22-17).
“We just had to breathe and calm down a little bit,” Lantz said. “We finally started smiling and relaxing a little bit more in that third set, and that’s when we played our best ball.
“We finally got into our groove instead of being on the defensive end of things and trying to react to what they were sending at us. We were finally doing what we’ve been doing all season long.”
Unfortunately, St. Albert played tight again to start the fourth set, and Holy Trinity took advantage. The Crusaders jumped out to an 8-1 lead, before eventually finishing off the match. St. Albert tried to fight back in the middle of the set, but it was too much to overcome.
“Holy Trinity, a team like that you can’t give a big cushion of points like that,” Lantz said. “But, we battled and put some pressure on them.
In her final match for St. Albert, Blaha finished with nine kills, one ace and one block. An emotional Blaha said the season started out rough, but she couldn’t be more proud of what they accomplished this season.
“Losing the seniors that we had last year was going to be tough,” Blaha said. “I knew that we could get to where to where we are. With all the hard work we did, we got here.”
Petry led the offense for St. Albert with 22 kills in four sets. Williams had 16 kills and one block, while Barnes and Veronica Svajgl had three kills apiece.
“Disappointing end,” Lantz said. “But, I’ll take a disappointing end at the state tournament any time over coming so close, and not getting here. Great senior class last year, slipped through our fingers last year, but this year’s seniors got to state.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them. I’ve been saying all season long, we need to write our own story. We can’t look back and relive last year’s story. This team, even though we took a couple of lumps at the beginning of the season, they wrote a fantastic story this year, one they should be very proud of.”
The future looks bright again for St. Albert. The Saintes return the dangerous duo of Petry and Williams. Maddie Estell and Sheffield also return.
“Lauren had a big night,” Lantz said. “That’s the future of what’s coming down the pipeline for us. Her role is going to increase every year for the next couple of years. Excited for what we have. Sad to see this come to an end for my seniors that have worked hard, but we’re going to stay hungry.”
Holy Trinity (29-10) 25 25 19 25
St. Albert (24-10) 16 23 25 15
Stat leaders (kills-aces-blocks): St. Albert: Allie Petry (22-1-1), Lauren Williams (16-0-1), Jordyn Blaha (9-1-1), Veronica Svajgl (3-3-1) Olivia Barnes (3-0-0). Holy Trinity: Claire Pothitakis (22-4-1), Kassi Randolph (8-2-1), Avery Hopper (8-0-0).