The pressure of a five-set thriller? No sweat.
Mike Meyer has survived worse.
Fifth-ranked LeMars Gehlen battled back from a 20-17 lead in the fourth game and staved off a match point in the fifth, outlasting No. 6 Fort Madison Holy Trinity, 17-25, 25-19, 23-25, 25-22, 19-17, in a Class 1A quarterfinal at the state volleyball tournament Thursday afternoon at the U.S. Cellular Center.
The triumph came 35 days after Meyer suffered injuries in a multiple-car crash on the way to a volleyball match at Hawarden.
“I feel very blessed to be able to enjoy all this,” said Meyer, the Jays’ head coach. “I’m very fortunate. God was looking out for me that day.”
Meyer was parked in his Dodge Intrepid after approaching a construction zone Oct. 7, awaiting a pilot car to lead a caravan of six cars through the zone. A semitruck hit them all. Nine people were injured, none fatally.
Fifteen of Meyer’s ribs were either broken or cracked — “I looked at the X-ray, and stopped counting,” he said — and he suffered a collapsed lung and a broken collarbone.
He missed the Jays’ final seven regular-season matches before rejoining the team in time for the postseason. He still hasn’t returned to his teaching job; he’s a social studies and history teacher.
“One of the best days was when the girls visited me in the hospital,” he said. “Another one was our regional final.”
And another one was Thursday. Gehlen (28-6) was in dire straits late in Game 4, trailing 2-1 in games and 20-17 in the set.
Then Steph Rohe went ballistic, notching six kills in an 8-2 run that lifted the Jays off the mat.
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“It’s not as if we don’t have other hitters than can do it,” said Rohe, who’s listed at 5-foot-7 but plays taller. “It was just my lucky day, I guess.”
Holy Trinity (39-10) had more opportunities in the finale. The Crusaders had a 10-7 lead before the Jays stormed back with five straight points.
Gehlen had match points at 14-13 and 15-14, but the Crusaders fought them both off. Deanna Knustrom’s ace gave Holy Trinity a window of opportunity at 16-15, but a violation and Amber Timmins’ block swung the advantage back to Gehlen.
The teams traded errant serves before a net violation on the Crusaders gave Gehlen the match.
Rohe finished with a match-high 20 kills. Lindsey Reinhardt led Holy Trinity with 15.
The Jays face No. 1 Tripoli (34-5) in a semifinal match at 6 p.m. Friday. The two-time defending champion Panthers made quick work of East Union.