By Kurt Ritzman
Assistant Sports Editor
CEDAR RAPIDS —
Five points from elimination, Marquette Catholic faced a tall task, and it called a timeout.
“We told them we had no timeouts left and this was where they had to leave everything on the court,” Marquette assistant coach Andy Bishop said. “We wanted them to try to make one last good push, and they did. They pushed really hard all the way to the final minute. It just didn’t happen.”
Fighting to the end, Marquette was swept by Holy Trinity Catholic of Fort Madison 25-22, 25-12, 25-16 in the quarterfinals of the Class 1A volleyball state tournament Thursday at the Ice Arena.
Of course the Mohawks faced a tall task from the start — in the form of 6-foot, 3-inch middle hitter Mikaela Foecke.
“We couldn’t stop her,” Marquette senior Danielle Bender said. “I’d like to see a team who could stop her. I don’t think it’s really possible.”
Foecke had a match-high 18 kills — including one on the final point — and three solo blocks, including one to end Game 1.
“It was difficult adjusting, but I liked playing against her,” Marquette senior Kelli Herrig said.
“She only had 18 kills,” Marquette senior Kelsey Tebbe said. “She had 26 kills in every other game. So basically we shut her down.”
Despite starting almost an hour and a half after the match was scheduled to begin because of earlier lengthy matches, Marquette was ready to play.
“In the first game, we definitely knew that we could stay with them,” Kelli Herrig said.
After falling behind 10-6 early, the Mohawks (29-6) rallied. Bender and Erica Sieverding delivered back-to-back kills as Marquette pulled within 11-9, then Herrig drilled three consecutive kills to put Marquette ahead 12-11.
The teams battled back and forth, with Holy Trinity (44-4) edging ahead 18-17.
Then, Bender knocked down one of her team-high eight kills to even the score. Sieverding hit a kill and Bender served an ace during a run that put the Mohawks ahead 21-18.
Holy Trinity fought back to even the score at 22 and then reeled off three points in a row to capture the opening game.
“We came out confident,” Bender said. “That’s how you have to come out. We had nothing to lose. We like being the underdog. I think that we came out really well. We were all ready to play. We could have had that game, but they had a few lucky breaks. They were the better team, but we could have won that first game.”
Game 2 was a different story, which was unfortunate for Marquette.
“They were fighting,” Holy Trinity coach Melissa Freesmeier said. “But we settled in and got some blocks on. That was the key to the game.”
Marquette stayed close early, trailing 12-8, but then the Crusaders went on a 10-2 run to take control at 22-10. Foecke had seven kills in the game and 6-1 Rachel Kempker added a key block and one of her six kills during the run.
“We knew that second game was not the way we played volleyball,” Bender said.
“The second game, I think we got really nervous,” Marquette senior Jacquel Frett said. “We knew they already had the first game over us. Then we got nervous and couldn’t get our passes up. We needed to relax and do what we normally do.”
Defense cost the Mohawks in Game 2. Holy Trinity had a .632 hitting efficiency as a team and served three of its six aces.
“We saw a lot of tough serves, and I think that threw off our game a lot,” Bishop said. “It prevented us from spreading the ball the way we wanted to.”
Bender said: “Our defense has definitely always been our weak spot. That’s what lost us the game. Our hitting is always really good. We just weren’t quick enough and a step late to a lot of things we should have gotten to. That’s definitely where we got hurt.”
Marquette wasn’t going to roll over trailing 2-0, though.
“Our coach gave us a motivational speech,” Herrig said. “We knew we didn’t want to be done. We wanted to play our hardest.”
Holy Trinity scored four of the first five points, with two kills and a solo block by Foecke in the stretch. Then, Bender drilled a kill and Frett and Sieverding combined on a block, sparking a 6-4 run that featured three kills by Lauren Swain and pulled the Mohawks to within one.
“I gave it everything I could; we all did that,” Bender said. “Going into that last game, we said if we were going to walk out, we were going to do it knowing we gave everything we could. I believe we did that.”
After a mini-run by the Crusaders, Marquette tied the game at 11 and briefly took a 12-11 lead on a Bender kill. But then Kempker drilled a kill to even the score.
“We knew the first one to 13 was going to get that one,” Freesmeier said. “Game 3 is so crucial. It doesn’t matter if you won the first two or not because that can swing the momentum. We just did what we do in practice. ... They had the mindset to get the job done.”
Holy Trinity went on a big run to take control and withstood Marquette’s final push, sending the Crusaders to today’s semifinal against Tripoli and ending the volleyball careers of Marquette’s seven seniors.
“It’s sad because we’re never going to play together as a team again,” Herrig said. “But we’re still happy that we made it this far and that we achieved our goal of getting here.”
HOLY TRINITY CATHOLIC 25-25-25,
MARQUETTE CATHOLIC 22-12-16
Kills — Marquette (Danielle Bender 8, Lauren Swain 7, Kelli Herrig 6, Erica Sieverding 5, Jacquel Frett 4, Kelsey Tebbe 1); Holy Trinity (Mikaela Foecke 18, Jordan Freesmeier 6, Rachel Kempker 6, Caitlin Fraise 5, Nicole Wilkens 2, Emily Tinguely 1); Assists — Marquette (Tebbe 28, Bender 1); Holy Trinity (Tinguely 32, Freesmeier 2, Lauren Pothitakis 1). Ace serves — Marquette (Bender 1, Tebbe 1); Holy Trinity (Amanda Welding 2, Tinguely 2, Freesmeier 1, Foecke 1). Blocks — Marquette (Bender 1, Sieverding 1); Holy Trinity (Kempker 4, Foecke 3, Wilkens 1, Fraise 1, Freesmeier 1). Digs — Marquette (Frett 8, Bender 7, Tebbe 6, Herrig 4, Sieverding 2, Swain 2, Justine Kalmes 2); Holy Trinity (Tinguely 7, Welding 5, Freesmeier 4, Maria Vonderhaar 4, Fraise 4, Pothitakis 4, Wilkens 3, Foecke 3, Kempker 1).