NEW ULM - Approaching volleyball playoff season, the term head coach may take on a slighty different context.
Consider Monday night's New Ulm Cathedral Greyhounds four set victory over the Sleepy Eye St. Mary's Saints, 25-13, 21-25, 25-17, 25-19. Both coaches mentioned the mental aspect of their teams' approach to the game after the match.
"I thought we kept our composure and stayed relaxed," Cathedral coach Stef Dietz said. "We've been working on being aggressive at the net and capitalizing on strong net play. It was a good win because we match up nicely against St. Mary's."
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s Becca Schmitz (13) gets a hand on a spike from MacKinnon Ehlenz (5) of New Ulm Cathedral Monday at CHS.
The Knights beat the Greyhounds in five sets earlier in the year, and coach Nicole Jensen pinpointed St. Mary's troubles against Cathedral Monday night.
"It's a big mental thing with us right now," Jensen said. "We just had so many missed opportunities. I think we beat ourselves. We had our moments and then we broke down."
The first set was close until the Greyhounds broke open a 6-6 tie. They went on a 12-5 run that was due equally to strong offense and Knights mistakes. An ace by Tori Zanke made it 20-12 and she stayed behind the line until a kill block by Kristin Mohr gave Cathedral the set.
There were seven ties in the second set, with St. Mary's taking command after it was 9-9. While the Greyhounds were behind by as much as five and as little as one, after the Knights were up 21-20, they utilized two kills from Maddy Helget and one each from Bethany Berkner and Becca Schmitz to tie the match.
There were big swings in the lead during the third set, with Cathedral reeling off nine in a row and 12 of 13 after it was down 7-3 to give it a 15-8 margin. After that, St. Mary's never got closer than six points and the Greyhounds took a 2-1 lead into the fourth set.
If the lead swings were big in the third set, they were wild in the fourth. The Greyhounds took a 4-1 lead, then watched as the Knights rattled off a nine-point run of their own to lead 10-4. But before anyone could yell "side out," the set was suddenly tied at 13-13, with the Greyhounds taking command behind their front line of Anne Schwartz, Lisa Helget and Mohr, with Mohr getting the final kill to end the match.
Cathedral is now 10-10 on the season, although winless in the Tomahawk Conference, while St. Mary's is 9-12 and 5-2 in conference play.
The Greyhounds were led by Helget's 13 kills, with Mohr adding 11. Paige Pautzke had 38 set assists, while Karlee Pfaff had 12 digs and two aces and Helget and MacKinnon Ehlenz had 11 digs each.
The Knights were led by Maddy Helget with 13 kills and 18 digs, while Schmitz had 11 kills and three blocks. Berkner had 20 set assists.
Cathedral resumes play at 7 p.m. tonight at Minnesota Valley Lutheran, while St. Mary's hosts Cedar Mountain/Comfrey at 7 p.m. tonight.