MVL beats St. Mary’s in 5-set thriller

NEW ULM – It took all five sets, but Minnesota Valley Lutheran was able to hold off a gutsy comeback by Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s and go on to win 25-21, 25-19, 20-25, 12-25, 15-8 in a Tomahawk Conference volleyball match on Tuesday.

The Chargers (1-1, 1-0 SMC) lost their senior outside hitter Rachel Olsen early in the first set to injury, but it did not seem to slow them down as they won the first two sets rather quickly.

St. Mary’s (1-1, 0-1 SMC) was not about to go down without a fight, however, and came out swinging in the third set.

MVL fell behind early in the third set and Bekka Olsen and Rylee Weisensel did everything they could to swing the momentum back to the Chargers.

However, Deonna Brinkman stepped up for the Knights to keep the score in their favor. Becca Schmitz extended the match for St. Mary’s with a monster block to finish the third set.

“We came out a little sluggish in the first two sets, but we had a mental change going into the third set and just told ourselves we are a better team than this, and we played much better in the final three sets,” said St. Mary’s head coach Jen Walter.

With all the momentum, the Knights came out and dominated the fourth set. Brinkman was a force at the net with multiple blocks,and MVL did not look at all like the team which had come right out and taken a 2-0 lead to start the match.

St. Mary’s ended the set on a 10-0 run to force a fifth set.

“We know we need to work on some things, but we need to stay strong, keep our heads up, and not get down on ourselves like we did tonight a little bit,” Weisensel said.

Senior libero Mariah Stein got MVL going with an ace which spurred a Chargers’ 7-1 run to start the fifth set. The Knights were not able to pull it back within six points, and junior Ally Lease served an ace to secure the victory for MVL.

“The whole team just said this is enough,” Weisensel said. “We came out fired up for that fifth set and really just got back to playing our game.”

MVL senior setter Laura Schoenherr kept the offense running smoothly with 34 set assists.

Weisensel led the Chargers offensively with 20 kills. MVL was led in digs by Olsen and Alexa Alfred with 13 and 10.

Brinkman led the Knights in kills and blocks with 12 kills and six blocks. Nikki Carr added nine kills for St. Mary’s.

Setter Bethany Berkner recorded 38 set assists to lead the Knights.

MVL plays at home again on Thursday against Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart, while St. Mary’s hosts Mountain Lake Area on Thursday.

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