NEW ULM - With only three seniors on the roster, the Cedar Mountain/Comfrey volleyball team is expected to have some growing pains this season as the Cougars gain experience.
Some of those growing pains were evident on Tuesday as the Cougars flirted with making it a highly competitive match with Minnesota Valley Lutheran. But in the end, the Chargers had too much experience and pulled away with a 25-21, 18-25, 25-20, 25-15 Tomahawk Conference volleyball win.
The Cougars came out and hung tough with the Chargers in the first set before MVL pulled away at the end. CM/C then evened things up in the second set, jumping out to a 5-1 lead.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Cedar Mountain/Comfrey’s Emily Ochs (5) spikes the ball as Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Rachel Olson (left) and Rylee Weisensel set up a block during the first game of the match Tuesday at MVL. Looking on is the Chargers’ Mariah Stein (10).
"I think what happened is we've got a really young team, and I think they were mentally there the second game," CM/C coach Tami Martin said. "Sometimes we don't stay mentally there the whole match, that's really what we're working on right now. As you can see, when they're mentally in the game, it's a beautiful thing to watch."
The Cougars had the early momentum in the second set and carried it with them the entire time. An ace serve by Courtney Nelsen put the Cougars ahead 8-3 and later, a couple of tips by Brianna Lund gave the Cougars a 12-6 advantage. They kept up the momentum to cruise to the second-set victory.
But just when it looked like things were swinging towards the Cougars, MVL established itself as the veteran team in the third set. An ace serve by Martha Johnston gave MVL an early 6-3 lead and a Rachel Olsen block put MVL ahead 9-3.
Sara Burk's ace made it 11-4 and later a kill by Burk upped the MVL lead to 19-14. The Chargers grabbed a 2-1 lead in the match, winning the third set 25-20.
For the Chargers, it was just a matter of shaking off the rust after a long break.
"It's been a week since we've played, our last game was [last] Tuesday, so getting fired up, we had a week of practice, so that was a little bit tougher," MVL coach Sara Gieseke said. "I knew the girls had it in them, it was just when it was actually gonna come out."
The Chargers made quick work of the Cougars in the fourth set to end the match. They jumped out to a 9-1 lead thanks to a couple of ace serves by Johnston and some strong play at the net.
Later, the Chargers led 16-5 on a kill by Rebekka Olsen and Burk's block made it 23-13. The Chargers ended the match with a hitting error by the Cougars.
For the Chargers, Johnston had 29 set assists, 10 digs and four ace serves. Burk had 13 kills, three blocks and four ace serves and Carlie Maasz finished with 11 kills, 13 digs and two ace serves.
The Cougars were led by Allison Madsen's 15 set assists and Erin Christensen's 10 set assists. Nelsen had seven kills and Lund had five kills and six blocks. Karliana Kelly finished with five kills and five blocks and Andrea Ochs had 13 digs.
MVL?(7-9-1) hosts Wabasso Thursday and CM/C (1-8) hosts Redwood Valley on Thursday.