NEW ULM - Although there were times when the Minnesota Valley Lutheran volleyball team had little breathing room in its non-conference match against Maple River on Monday, the Chargers never let themselves feel like they weren't in control.
That confidence helped MVL withstand a pair of furious rallies by the Eagles and earn a 25-20, 25-17, 25-19 victory on Parent's Night.
"Especially after a busy homecoming weekend, it was good to have the girls right away on Monday be focused enough to take it in three," Chargers head coach Sara Gieseke said. "I think the confidence that they have in themselves and their teammates really is coming around now this time of the season."
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Molly Maasz (1) and Rylee Weisensel set up to try to block a spike from Maple River’s Anna Langworthy Monday at MVL.
MVL breezed to big leads in the first and second sets, only to have Maple River close the gap to set up tight finishes in each case.
In the first set, the Chargers dominated early and took their biggest lead at 20-9 following a kill by senior Sarah Burk. However, the Eagles followed with an 11-1 run that cut the home side's lead to 21-20.
Consecutive hitting errors by Maple River finally ended the run and gave MVL a bit of a cushion at 23-20. Chargers senior Carlie Maasz followed with a big kill, after which a hitting error by Eagles senior Anna Langworthy put MVL ahead 1-0 in the match.
The second set saw the Chargers earn a 17-7 lead following a kill by Rylee Weisensel, but a 10-3 run by the Eagles shrunk the lead to 20-17.
MVL rebounded with a 5-0 run to win the set, the final two points of which came on ace serves by Burk.
The third set was a much closer contest, with the two teams staying within three points of each other throughout the early part of the set.
"The third set was a lot of fun to play," Maasz said.
After the fourth tied score of the set at 11-11, a pair of errors by the Chargers gave Maple River a 13-11 lead.
The Chargers promptly tied the score at 13-13, after which a kill by Rachel Olsen gave the home side the lead for good.
Olsen added two more kills and an ace block down the stretch to help MVL maintain a slim lead. A kill by Maasz set up a 4-0 Chargers run that ended the match, with Maasz adding an ace serve on match point to cement the sweep.
"It's always nice to take care of them in three sets, and we're done before 8:30, so that's always nice," Maasz said. "We really stayed up for pretty much most of the game, and that was really fun to watch. Everybody on our team got into it, the bench was really loud, our fans were really loud, that was nice. We had great communication, and we just played well."
Maasz led the Chargers with eight kills and also added six digs, a block and two aces. Senior Martha Johnston had 24 set assists and eight digs, senior Allison Collum had a team-high 11 digs and two aces and Burk added seven kills and three aces.
Also adding top contributions for MVL were Olsen (six kills, one block), Mariah Stein (five aces) and Weisensel (four kills, one ace block).
"I think they were excited because of Parent's Night, it's always fun to play in front of their family and friends," Gieseke said. "We were able to get all 15 girls in, so that was quite the feat. It was really fun to watch them play together."
The Chargers (13-11-3 overall record) will get straight back into action when they host New Ulm Cathedral tonight. It will be the first time the two teams meet this season.
"We're so excited for that one," Maasz said. "We were already sort of looking past [Monday's match] for [tonight's match]."
MVL will celebrate Senior Night during the match, as it will be the team's final regular season home contest.
"It would be nice to send the seniors away with a nice win at home," Gieseke said.