The No. 5 (1A) Mayer Lutheran volleyball team got a taste of the postseason last week when the Crusaders took on No. 2 (1A) Bethlehem Academy.
The Crusaders are 17-5 this season and currently lead the Minnesota River Conference with a 6-0 record. But just behind Mayer Lutheran is No. 5 (2A) Belle Plaine at 7-1. The two teams faced off on Oct. 16 at Belle Plaine, but results were not available when this issue went to press. The winner gets the MRC crown. Belle Plaine won the title in 2011.
Bethlehem 3, Mayer 0
Falling to No. 2 (1A) Bethlehem Academy 18-25, 23-25, and 15-25 on Oct. 9, the Crusaders struggled on and off all evening against an aggressive team, according to head coach Joelle Grimsley.
“[Bethlehem Academy does] not make many mistakes and plays a very disciplined type of volleyball,” she said. “BA just never let up and we ended up playing catch up most of the night.”
Grimsley said the Crusaders lacked control of the ball and said there is no way to win a match when one doesn’t play her best. The Crusaders served at 92 percent (49-52) and tallied 33 set assists, 36 kills, 18 digs, and seven errors. Junior Lauren Schroeder was 12-12 serving, while junior Rachel Schmidt was 8-8, as was sophomore Maria Kuntz and senior Anna Ernst. Senior Ashlyn Hucky was 6-7. Senior Nico Schmidt and Rachel Schmidt each had 11 kills for the Crusader effort, along with senior Kristen Mielke (6), Kuntz (4), and Hucky (3). Hucky also had 32 set assists. Schroeder had six digs, while Nico Schmidt had five.
Mayer 3, W-M 1
At Watertown-Mayer on Oct. 11, the Crusaders began slowly and dropped the first set 24-26, but took the next three 25-13, 25-23, and 25-17.
“We struggled with our ball control early on and then started playing more our style,” Grimsley said. “It was a match that kept us on our toes and playing strong.”
Mayer Lutheran served at 82 percent against the Royals with eight aces. Kuntz was 13-15 from the service line and senior Emma Christopherson was 9-10; Hucky was 15-16. With 36 digs and 10 blocks, the Crusader defense shut down the Royals. Nico Schmidt had nine digs, followed by Ernst (7), Mielke (6), Christopherson (4), and junior Jessi Grimsley (4).
A solid defensive effort from the Crusaders led to 57 kills at the net. Kuntz led the Crusaders with 15 kills. Also contributing at the net was Rachel Schmidt (14 kills), Nico Schmidt (11), Mielke (8), and Hucky (7). Mielke led with four blocks, while Kuntz and Rachel Schmidt each had three.
LHS will finish the regular season at home on Oct. 22.