Team: Mayer Lutheran volleyball
Coach: Joelle Grimsley
Years coaching this team: 17
Assistant coach: Jason Beck, 4th season with Crusaders
Conference: Minnesota River
Section: 4A Conference championships: 14 – most recently in 2002 and 2003
State tournament appearances: 10 – 1982 Class A champions, most recent appearances in 2007 (third), 2010, and 2011
Captains: Ashlyn Hucky and Nico Schmidt
2011 finish: The Crusaders finished 2011 with a 22-14 season record, finishing fourth in the MRC. They went on to win Section 4A by defeating Southwest Christian, and earn a place in the state tournament.
At state, LHS went 1-2, defeating BOLD, but falling to Nevis and Win-E-Mac for a sixth place finish.
In tournaments, they finished 11th at Chaska and third at the Class A Showcase Tournament.
Key losses: Last season saw the departure of a strong senior squad, including All-State libero Jennifer Krentz, All-Conference Honorable Mention player Taylor Rollo, as well as Megan Gruenhagen, and Morgan Hensel. Sarah Buttenhoff and Megan Strehlke also clocked time on the court for LHS.
Key returners: Seniors Ashlyn Hucky, Kristen Mielke, and Nico Schmidt return from last season’s state team to lead LHS in 2012, along with junior Rachel Schmidt. The starters are hoping to lead the Crusaders to a third consecutive trip to state. Hucky and Nico Schmidt were both All-Conference players in 2011, and Schmidt was also named to the Honorable Mention State Team as well as the All-Tournament State Team.
Also returning from last year’s team are seniors Adriana Ernst, Emma Christopherson, and Christina Bruggman.
Prospects: The Crusaders have added five new faces to their varsity squad this season including juniors Lauren Schroeder, Sam Bartz, Jessi Grimsley, and Shelby Sicheneder, along with sophomore Maria Kuntz.
Teams to beat: Competing in an extremely tough volleyball conference, coach Joelle Grimsley said the Crusaders are looking at Belle Plaine, Jordan, and LeSueur-Henderson as their top MRC rivals.
They have also added tournaments in Chaska and Eden Prairie to their schedule, taking on teams such as Bloomington Jefferson, Minnetonka, Cretin-Derham Hall, and Eagan, in hopes of challenging the Crusader team and preparing LHS for sections. Goals: With seven team members returning from the 2011 state team, Grimsley said the team already knows what it will take for a return trip to state. She said the team has potential to make it again this season, but said her main focus is “to learn throughout our journey.”