Eagles come back to win 5-set match

NEW ULM – Anyone who missed going on a thrill ride at the Minnesota State Fair could have had one at New Ulm High School gym Tuesday night.

The New Ulm Eagles volleyball team overcame a first-set loss to hand the Redwood Valley Cardinals a five-set defeat (19-25, 25-22, 25-19, 24-26, 15-12) to win their first match under new head coach Lauren Hoffmann.

In fact, it may have been some timely advice given by Hoffmann to the squad when they were down 18-11 in the second set that set up their comeback and eventual victory.

“I told them they had to do certain things I wanted them to do or I’d take them out,” Hoffmann said. “We tried a little different things with the rotation and we adjusted coverage as we went. They picked up on it pretty well.”

While the Eagles (1-1) only won three matches last season, this year’s team has the makings of a group that could make some noise in the coming months, despite a poor showing in the opening set against the Cardinals.

Redwood Valley (0-2) pretty much had its way in the first set, rolling to a 13-5 lead at one point, with New Ulm unable to get closer than four points to the lead.

The second set saw the Eagles struggle once they were down 6-4, with the Cardinals powering their way to the aforementioned 18-11 margin behind eight kills.

That’s when the tide started to turn New Ulm’s way, as Redwood Valley committed five unforced (that were somewhat forced by the Eagles) errors.

Later, an ace from New Ulm’s Chase Schewe and a kill from Lizzie Rummel knotted it 22-22.

The Eagles then took their first lead of the night with consecutive aces from Katie Forst, followed by a double hit from the Cardinals for a 1-1 tie.

New Ulm stayed on the roll early in the third set, going up 5-0. The Cardinals would come back and there were five ties before a kill from Forst put the Eagles up for good at16-15.

Redwood Valley committed 15 unforced errors throughout the set, but that was nothing compared to the fourth set.

New Ulm completely imploded early with eight errors that gave the Cardinals a 9-1 stake. The Eagles were able to get within three of the lead, but it wasn’t until they had their backs completely against the wall, down 24-20, that they showed life.

A tip kill by Kate Denney and three errors by Redwood Valley tied it at 24-24. But two balls hit out of bounds gave the Cardinals the win and a 2-2 match that had 30 of the 50 total points scored due to errors.

New Ulm recovered quickly, though, taking a 4-0 lead in the tiebreaker, only to see Redwood Valley come back and tie it at 5-5. Even up at 9-9, Forst stepped up with two kills and a kill block that put the Eagles up 13-10.

The gap closed to 13-12 before a net serve and a out of bounds hit put New Ulm in the victory column.

Forst led the Eagles with six kills, 18 digs, eight solo blocks and eight block assists. Schewe had seven kills and 29 digs, while Brianna Sieve had 16 digs and Hannah Backer had 13 digs. Alley Grejtak had 10 digs and 14 set assists and Rummel had seven solo blocks.

New Ulm resumes play with their first South Central Conference match when they host Fairmont at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday night.

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