For the Mayer Lutheran volleyball team, the season ended a week too early. Falling 3-0 to Southwest Christian in the Section 4A title game, the Crusaders went home with second place medals and without a state tournament entry.
“It is the way life is sometimes and we have to learn to treasure the moments we had,” head coach Joelle Grimsley said.
Included in those moments were a 24-8 season record, and a 7-0 undefeated Minnesota River Conference record that awarded Mayer Lutheran the MRC title.
In the first rounds of section play, the Crusaders defeated PACT Charter, St. Agnes, and New Life Academy to land in a rematch title game against Southwest Christian. In 2011, the two teams had also faced off for the section title. But this season, it would be the Stars that would send the Crusaders home brokenhearted. The Stars finished second in the state tournament.
Grimsley said the Crusaders talked at length about keeping their eyes on the prize, which for volleyball was state.
“Coming up just short of a year-long goal can be a very tough thing,” she said.
The team will lose seniors Kristen Mielke, Tina Bruggman, Emma Christopherson, and Anna Ernst along with senior captains Ashlyn Hucky and Nico Schmidt, all of who will be missed, Grimsley said.
“Coaching [the seniors] for several years and watching them excel in volleyball and in life decisions is why I coach,” she said. “I looked forward to coming into practice every day because I knew they would work hard and we would have a good time doing it.”
Returning for the Crusaders next season will be juniors Sam Bartz, Jessi Grimsley, Rachel Schmidt, Lauren Schroeder, Shelby Sicheneder, and sophomore Maria Kuntz.
“I feel very blessed and am already counting down the days.” Grimsley said.