For the third time in three seasons, the Mayer Lutheran volleyball team played a match against Southwest Christian to decide who would continue in the Section 4A tournament. The last two seasons, the teams met in the section finals, but for 2013, it would be a battle of the Crusaders and Stars in a semifinal game to see who would advance for that shot at state.
In a 3-0 loss on Oct. 29, the Crusaders fell to the Stars at Southwest Christian. But Mayer Lutheran didn’t go down without a fight, according to LHS head coach Joelle Grimsley.
“The Crusaders came out ready to play,” she said. “For the first 22 points of set one we were able to keep SW chasing us and played great defense with an uptempo offense…Crusaders came out on fire and made SW have to make some adjustments.”
Leading 22-15 in the first set, the Crusaders struggled to get the side out on one of Southwest Christian’s best servers, and the Stars quickly closed the lead and would win the set 25-23.
“They did a super job of chipping away at our lead and kept the pressure on,” Grimsley said. “We were not able to rebound quickly against the Stars going into the next set.”
Losing set two 25-12, the Crusaders first six kill attempts were blocked and Mayer Lutheran was quickly down 22-5.
“At that time, the Crusaders made a short run but ended on some great plays,” Grimsley said.
Unfortunately for LHS, the Stars had eight stuff blocks during the second set.
Set three proved much more even for both teams as the Crusaders tied with Southwest Christian at 12-12 thanks to some smart play and long rallies for LHS. But Grimsley said the final 13 points “were a blur to the Crusaders,” as Southwest Christian took the momentum and ran away with the set 25-13.
Despite the loss, Grimsley said she was very proud of the team and the way the girls played.
“The match and season did not end the way we wanted it to, but there are many memories and highlights that these girls will always have,” she said. “We talked about making a difference in people’s lives on and off the volleyball court throughout this year, and they did some amazing things in both areas.”
Against the Stars, the Crusaders logged 26 kills, 24 set assists, and served at 89 percent (43-48). Strong service nights came from senior Lauren Schroeder (10-10), senior Shelby Sicheneder (7-7), sophomore Kalie Winter (6-6), senior Rachel Schmidt (7-8), and senior Sam Bartz (5-6).
Junior Maria Kuntz led Mayer Lutheran with six kills, followed by freshman Rachel Roepke (4), Sicheneder (3), Bartz (3), and Winter (1). Winter (14), Schroeder (7), and Roepke (3) totaled the team’s assists.
As a team, Mayer Lutheran had 44 total digs, with nearly half from senior Jessi Grimsley (21). Schmidt had nine digs to keep the back court clear, followed by Sicheneder (5), Schroeder (4), Winter (3), and Bartz (2).
Southwest Christian went on to defeat Heritage Christian in the Section 4A finals for their second consecutive state entry.
The Crusaders finished the season 13-16-2, third in the Minnesota River Conference behind Belle Plaine and Jordan.
Look for a full season wrap up of the LHS volleyball team in the coming weeks.
Contact Melissa Marohl at email@example.com