Crusaders battle rivals

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The Mayer Lutheran volleyball team played a pair of neighborly rivals last week, taking on Waconia Aug. 29 and Watertown-Mayer Aug. 31. The Crusaders got the best of each opponent, sweeping each matchup 3-0.

Mayer Lutheran 3 Waconia 0

The Wildcats hosted the Crusaders Aug. 29 in front of a big crowd, and the two teams dueled for every point with each set going back-and-forth.

“Overall I thought [we] played very well [but] we started out a bit shaky – we missed five serves, yet we had five aces,” coach Joelle Grimsley said. “There is always a great crowd at Waconia and we knew it was going to be a tough match so we talked a lot about keeping our errors down and keep the ball in play.”

The Crusaders took the lead midway through the first set and never looked back, winning 25-19, 25-18 and 25-21. The deep roster of talent helped Mayer Lutheran push through for the win.

“We were able to be very effective defensively with 15 digs – this helps our setters spread out our offense, so were are able to use multiple hitters,” Grimsley said. “In set one we had 13 kills between five players. In sets two and three, [we] played a bit sharper and were putting the pressure on Waconia’s defense. [We] were able to keep their errors lower and play better defense. Defense starts at the net and the team had six blocks in the last two sets.”

Mya Chmielewski led the team in digs with 10, followed by Sophie Heuer (9), Maddy Hucky (8), Madi Beck (7) and Nicole Klaustermeier (3).

Olivia Tjernagel led the Crusaders at the net with two blocks, followed by Tina Saulsbury (1.5), Claudia Stahlke (1.5), Hucky (1) and Heuer (1).

Hucky had a team-high 18 assists and Lauren Wandersee had seven.

Leading in kills was Tjernagel with 10, followed by Heuer (7), Hucky (4), Saulsbury (4), Beck (4) and Stahlke (1).

Hucky had four aces for Mayer Lutheran, Beck had three, while Heuer and Saulsbury each had one.

Mayer Lutheran 3 Watertown-Mayer 0

In front of another large crowd to see a local rivalry, the Crusaders celebrated their parents before the home-opener.

“Tonight we were able to celebrate and give thanks for our parents,” Grimsley said. “We are always so grateful for what all of these parents do to support the Crusader volleyball team. Being we played Watertown-Mayer. we had a great crowd filled with much cheering at our first home match.”

In set one, Mayer Lutheran started off strong before a late push from the Royals forced some mistakes.

“In the first set, [we] started out very strongly,” Grimsley said. “The defense stepped up and played very effective by getting our setters the ball. As the first set progressed and [we] were up 17 – 10, there was a major let up. Watertown-Mayer played strong and kept coming back into the set by putting the ball back while [we] were creating many errors.”

Mayer Lutheran ultimately won the first set 25-17 before playing much better in sets two and three to pick up wins of 25-10 and 25-18.

“In the second set, [we] were playing much sharper, keeping errors down and putting the ball back to the other side with force,” Grimsley said. “In the third set, the Royals kept fighting and played strong defense and kept [us] on [our] toes. It was a great night for the Crusaders. We are working hard at keeping our errors down and playing consistent.”

Stahlke had five assisted blocks, Tjernagel had three and Beck had one. Tjernagel also had one block.

Tjernagel led the team with seven kills, followed by Saulsbury (5), Stahlke (5), Beck (4), Heuer (2), Haley Rowher (2) and Symone Jopp (1).

Chmielewski had 16 digs, followed by Heuer (9), Hucky (4), Wandersee (3) and Shelby Gabbert (2).

Hucky led the team with 16 assists, while Wandersee had six and Riley Corrigan had five.

Hucky tallied six aces, Beck picked up four and Saulsbury added one.