NEW ULM - The flashes of light are there, now the New Ulm Eagles volleyball team needs to add some thunder to its game.
The Eagles dropped to 1-10 overall and 1-4 in the South Central Conference Thursday in losing to the St. James Saints 25-20, 25-19, 13-25, 25-13.
But remember the score of that third set. New Ulm showed what it could do when it put everything together.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm’s Katie Forst hits the ball during the Eagles’ match against St. James Thursday at NUHS.
"I was really happy with the middle hitters tonight, they attacked and blocked aggressively," New Ulm coach Chris Otto said. "We've been waiting for that for a while and it was nice to see it. We saw what they could do.
"The key to the match was our serving, though," Otto said of the night's 16 service errors. "It wasn't good and we need to cut down to at least half that number."
Indeed, that's pretty much how the Eagles handed the first set to the Saints. Six errant serves and seven unforced errors gave St. James over half the points they needed. Add in five kills from Saints middle hitter Devon Flohrs and the teams quickly proceeded to the second set.
While New Ulm was able to clean up some of its service and other mistakes in the second set, St. James was able to score four service aces in the first half of the set as it opened a 13-5 lead.
The Eagles were never able to really close the gap, as the Saints scored 11 points from their offense and held New Ulm at bay the whole set.
The beginning of the third set was interesting because the Eagles opened it like they meant it and took a 3-0 lead. Then St. James came back with six in a row for a 6-3 margin. That's when New Ulm showed how it is capable of playing.
The Eagles reeled off nine straight points, helped by steady serving from Briana Sieve and a couple of kills by middle hitter Sarah Nelsen. After the Saints cut the lead to 17-13, Lizzie Rummel stepped behind the service line and delivered four aces to go along with a couple of tip kills and New Ulm had its first set win in two matches.
St. James recovered quickly in the fourth set. It ran up a 8-1 lead with three aces and wouldn't let the Eagles closer than four until a kill block from Nelsen and an ace by Sieve cut the gap to 16-14. But a kill block ended the set and the match for New Ulm.
Nelsen ended with nine kills and two blocks, while Katie Forst had eight kills and two blocks. Sieve had 20 digs and Bree Friedman contributed 21 set assists.
New Ulm resumes play this weekend at the Sibley East tournament in Arlington, with its next conference action at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night in Waseca.