The Watertown-Mayer High School volleyball team went down to the wire in a couple of five-set matches last week, knocking off Rockford at home on Tuesday, Oct. 1, but falling to Mayer Lutheran on the road on Thursday, Oct. 3.
For the Royals, five set matches are starting to become the norm, with their last four non-tournament matches going the distance. The Royals lost the first two during that streak, but finally picked up a win over Rockford.
Even after coming out slow against the Rockets — the Royals lost the first set 25-17 — and eventually trailing 2-1, Watertown-Mayer found a way to close out the win. The Royals won the final two sets 25-22 and 15-9 to pull out the victory after also winning the second set, 25-15.
“This was our third match in a row going to a full five sets, and this time the girls pulled out the win,” Watertown-Mayer coach Andrea Raser said. “The match on our side of the net was a roller coaster and we struggled to find a consistent level of play, but we finished strong and finished with the win.”
Ashley Vealetzek’s 27 kills, three blocks and 19 digs led the Royals, while Ashley Kelzer and Kiana Paulson both matched her with the 19 digs. Kelzer added eight kills and Lily Reinert had seven. Chelsea Wandersee led the team with 44 assists and two aces while also adding six kills. Britni Grossinger had 11 digs and Caitlin Duske had four kills.
Against Mayer Lutheran two nights later, Watertown-Mayer once again dropped the first set by a wide margin, 25-15, but quickly rallied to take the lead. The Royals picked up convincing 25-15 and 25-18 wins in the next two sets put the pressure on the Crusaders, but Mayer Lutheran responded. The Crusaders won easy 25-13 and 15-7 victories in the final two sets to close out the match.
“Our focus this year has been finishing strong and controlling what we can control,” Raser said. “We played physically and mentally strong in sets 2 and 3, and then mentally let up for sets 4 and 5.”
Vealetzek had a team-high 17 kills while Reinert added eight, Wandersee finished with six and Kelzer had five. Paulson had 19 digs and Wandersee had 15, while also distributing 31 assists.
Raser said she hoped the loss could be learning tool for her team.
“The girls want to win, and know we are a physically strong team capable of big wins, but need to truly believe they deserve to win,” she said. “We need to continue to learn from and build on experiences from each match, which the girls are doing.”
The Royals return to action when they host Sibley East on Thursday, Oct. 10, at 7:15 p.m., and then close the regular season at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at Sibley East. The Royals are now 11-13 overall and 1-4 in the Minnesota River Conference, and sit in sixth place.
“We need to do everything possible to continue to build our momentum for our last two conference games and the postseason,” Raser said.
Contact Matt Bunke at firstname.lastname@example.org