The Royals came out flat on Monday, Sept. 16, when Delano cruised to an easy 3-0 win over the Royals in Delano. However, the Royals came back strong later in the week, posting a five-set win over Mound-Westonka the next night and then beating LeSueur-Henderson 3-1 on Thursday, Sept. 19.
The win over LeSueur-Henderson also included a milestone for the Royals’ senior setter. Chelsea Wandersee reached 1,000 assists in her career on the 23rd point of the fourth and final set.
“She knew she was close, but had no clue how close she truly was,” Watertown-Mayer coach Andrea Raser said. “The coaches and players new the countdown was on.”
Delano 3, Royals 0
The Tigers cruised to a 25-8, 25-11, 25-17 win over Watertown-Mayer in Delano on Monday, Sept. 16, the first match of the week for the Royals.
Ashley Vealetzek finished with eight kills to lead the Royals and Lily Reinert had four. Wandersee had 13 assists, Amanda Strom had four assists and Kiana Paulson and Katelyn Yliniemi each had a team-high six digs.
“It’s hard to compete when you never show up for the game,” Raser said.
Royals 3, M-W 2
It was a completely different story for the Royals on Tuesday, Sept. 17, when Watertown-Mayer won the first two sets and eventually held on for a five-set victory over the Whitehawks.
The Royals opened with 25-19 and 25-13 wins in the first two sets, and seemed to be headed toward an easy victory. However, the Whitehawks responded with two tight wins in the third and fourth sets, taking the third, 25-23, and the fourth, 28-26.
However, the Royals were up to the challenge. They held on and won the match by earning a 15-11 victory in the fifth set.
“It was the first time we had to play a fifth game, and the girls finished the match strong,” Raser said. “It’s important for the girls to have that fifth-game experience.”
Vealetzek had a match-high 28 kills, while Reinert added 15, Ashley Kelzer had 10, Wandersee had five and Caitlin Duske had four.
Wandersee added 44 assists, 13 digs and six aces, and Yliniemi and Paulson led the way with 23 digs apiece. Vealetzek had 3.5 blocks and two aces, and Kelzer also had two aces.
Amanda Wabbe continued to miss time with an injury for the Royals, but Raser said other players have stepped up nicely.
“Although Amanda Wabbe’s presence is missed on the court, Caitlin Duske has done a great job stepping into her role on the right side,” Raser said.
Royals 3, LSH 1
Wandersee reached her milestone 1,000 assists as the Royals won for the second time in a row with a road victory over the Giants.
Once again, the Royals took a 2-0 lead, this time winning the first two sets, 25-22 and 25-13. After the Giants stayed alive with a 25-18 win in the third set, the Royals avoided a second consecutive fifth-set match by closing with a 25-19 win in the fourth set.
“After having Monday and Tuesday games this week, we had a chance to regroup at practice and get prepared for our next conference game,” Raser said. “The girls stepped on the court physically and mentally prepared to play. We had been working on finishing strong this season, and tonight the girls did that. They weren’t fazed by the third set loss. They came out in the fourth and finished.”
Vealetzek racked up another 27 kills for the Royals, nearly three-quarters of the team’s total of 40. Kelzer added four for the Royals and Victoria Lynch added three.
Paulson had a team-high three aces, and also added 20 digs. Wandersee had a team-high 30 digs, while Vealetzek added 22, Yliniemi added 16 and Reinert had 14.
Vealetzek had a team-high three blocks, Kelzer had 2.5 and Wandersee had two.
The Royals opened this week on Tuesday, Sept. 24, with a home game against Dassel-Cokato. They’ll be back in action, once again at home, on Thursday, Sept. 26, at 7:15 p.m. against Norwood Young America. The Royals will also play at the Dassel-Cokato Tournament on Saturday, Sept. 28, which starts at 9 a.m., and at home against Rockford on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at 7:15 p.m.
Contact Matt Bunke at [email protected]