The Watertown-Mayer volleyball team lost a pair of midweek matches last week, but responded by going 3-1 at the Dassel-Cokato Tournament to finish in second place.
After losing two five-set matches at home during the week — the first to Dassel-Cokato and the second to Norwood Young America — the Royals came out strong on Saturday, Sept. 28. The Royals rattled off wins over BOLD, Rockford and St. Cloud Tech to advance to the championship game, where they ultimately fell to Dassel-Cokato.
“We played at a consistent level the entire day,” said Watertown-Mayer head coach Andrea Raser, whose team, after an 0-4 start, continued to creep closer to .500, and now sits at 10-12 overall. “The best part of the entire day for me was to see all my players get quality playing time on the court, and see that the chemistry of the team did not change.”
DC 2, Royals 0
Dassel-Cokato (20-1) won it 20th consecutive match after a season-opening loss, beating Watertown-Mayer 25-18, 25-18 for the tournament championship. It was the second time this year DC has beaten the Royals in the championship match of a tournament.
Ashley Vealetzek, who had a .520 hitting percentage on the day as a whole, led the Royals with 10 of the team’s 15 total kills against the Chargers. Lily Reinert and Katelyn Yliniemi each had two.
Aleah Lange led the team with two aces, while Chelsea Wandersee had 15 assists. Kiana Paulson had 11 digs, while Vealetzek and Yliniemi each had nine.
“We knew we were going to face them in the championship game, and we wanted revenge,” said Raser, whose team fell just short of ending the Charger’s long winning streak earlier in the week. “Playing a team that is 20-1 is going to be a challenge, and it was.”
Royals 2, St. Cloud Tech 0
Watertown-Mayer advanced to the championship match with a 25-22, 26-16 win over St. Cloud Tech in the semifinals. Vealetzek’s 11 kills led the way for the Royals, and she also matched Paulson for the team lead with seven digs. Ashley Kelzer added six kills, and Wandersee had 22 assists and six digs. Kelzer led the team with two aces.
Royals 2, Rockford 0
Ahead of a rematch that took place earlier this week at Watertown-Mayer High School, the Royals cruised past Rockford, 25-13, 25-16 in their first match of the Dassel-Cokato Tournament.
Vealetzek had 14 kills and Wandersee had 24 assists. Paulson had 12 digs and Reinert had four kills.
Royals 2, BOLD 1
The Royals faced a tough test in the first round of the Dassel-Cokato tournament after they lost the first set to BOLD, 26-24. However, the Royals turned things around in a hurry, closing out the match with easy 25-17 and 25-12 wins in the second and third sets.
Vealetzek had 12 kills and 15 digs, and Kelser had seven kills and 11 digs. Wandersee had 26 assists and 11 digs, and Paulson had 12 digs.
Vealetzek and Wandersee had two aces apiece, Yliniemi had nine digs, and Reinert and Britni Grossinger had seven digs apiece.
NYA 3, Royals 2
Watertown-Mayer and Norwood Young America traded sets in their match in Watertown on Thursday, Sept. 26, with the Raiders ultimately taking a 3-2 win after a tight-as-can-be 16-14 win in the fifth set.
Norwood Young America took a big early lead in the first set, and rode that momentum to a 25-18 win, taking early control of the match.
“We started off sluggish,” Raser said. “Our team needs to break the mental cycle of staring off the match slow and having to play catchup.”
The Royals did just that, however, bouncing back with a 25-22 win in the second set, before NYA surged ahead once more with a 25-22 win in the third set. Watertown-Mayer stayed alive with a 25-20 win in the fourth set, but just couldn’t quite finish things out in the fifth set.
“The girls snapped out of it midway through the second set and fought back the rest of the match,” Raser said. “In Set 5, we really started off slow. We gave NYA at least six of their first eight points.”
Vealetzek had 21 kills, 3.5 blocks and 15 digs for the Royals. Wandersee had 45 assists and 21 digs. Kelzer added 10 kills and 12 digs, and Reinert had 10 kills. Paulson had 20 digs to lead the Royals.
Despite the fifth set loss, Raser said she was proud of the way her team battled back from the early deficit in that set to actually force NYA to need an extra point to win, 16-14.
“Our focus has been on our mental game, and the players really showed they have the mental strength and focus midway through the fifth set, when we were down 8-2. To come back and lose 16-14 in the fifth after digging such a big hole really made a statement.”
DC 3, Royals 2
After losing the first set, the Royals appeared poised to end Dassel-Cokato’s long winning streak after taking a 2-1 lead after three sets. However, the Chargers came back to win the final two sets to keep its streak alive.
Set scores were 25-18, 21-25, 22-25, 25-15, 15-8.
“The girls played an all-around great game,” Raser said. “We had a slow start, but came alive in the second and third sets.”
Vealetzek finished with 25 kills and added 15 digs, 1.5 blocks and two aces. Wandersee had 35 assists, 13 digs, five kills and three aces, and Reinert had seven kills. Paulson finished with a team-high 22 digs and Kelzer added five kills and 18 digs. Yliniemi had 12 digs.
“The girls were not satisfied taking them to five,” Raser said. “They wanted to finish with the win. We some come a long way this year in finding the fire, and it’s exciting to see it show up. Now we just need to keep it going and build on it.”
The Royals hosted Rockford on Tuesday, Oct. 1, and will be back in action Thursday, Oct. 3, at Mayer Lutheran, starting at 7:15 p.m.