Cathedral sweeps Nicollet
By Jake Calhoun
Journal Sports Writer
NEW ULM – Despite getting the win, Cathedral volleyball coach Stef Dietz was not too pleased with the way her team played.
New Ulm Cathedral, fresh off its thrilling four-set win against Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s last Thursday, swept Nicollet 25-19, 25-20, 27-25 in a nonconference match Monday night.
“Even though we won, which it’s great to get the win, I thought we were off in all aspects of our game,” Dietz said. “Communication breakdowns, we sent them a lot of free balls, we weren’t attacking, we weren’t swinging hard.
“We stuck with it, we got the win; but it wasn’t our best match, let’s just put it that way.”
The Greyhounds (8-3, 1-2 Tomahawk Conference) did get off on the right foot in taking a 5-1 lead in the first set. Nicollet coach Judy Radke said her team’s struggles early in the first set were due to a lack of confidence.
“We had a tough week last week, we played two strong teams and we’re on our heels too much,” Radke said. “We were unsure.”
The Raiders (3-3, 1-2 Valley Conference) fought back but never garnered a lead in the first set, which the Greyhounds took 25-19. Amber Hillesheim and MacKinnon Ehlenz had three kills each in that first set for Cathedral.
The second set, however, was different.
Nicollet jumped out to a 3-1 lead thanks to two-straight kills by Emily Fischer and one kill by Alyssa Wagner.
“The second game, we started out a lot better than the first game,” Fischer said. “I thought we had a lot more intensity, but we just couldn’t get it finished.”
Fischer tallied four of her match-high nine kills in the second set, during which the Raiders led in all but eight points – six of which were ties – until a 12-12 tie that resulted from an attack error by Sarah Molitor.
Molitor’s error was the first of five-straight points for Cathedral to give it a 16-12 lead.
“We gave up too many runs,” Radke said. “Every time they served, they got a long run, so that was just too many times where we made one mistake and then we made five.”
Cathedral hung onto the lead for the rest of the set, winning 25-20 to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
However, Nicollet jumped out to another early lead in the third set as a result of more communication issues for Cathedral.
“It’s easy to place the ball when they’re more frantic than us,” Fischer said. “You know where the open spots are and you can kind of place the ball there.
“But when their defense is stronger and they get where they need to go, it’s a little bit harder to get the ball down.”
Cathedral took a 17-13 lead after a 4-0 run, but Nicollet captured the lead after breaking an 18-18 tie.
Following a Cathedral timeout with Nicollet leading 20-18, the Greyhounds went on another 4-0 run to take a 22-20 lead as a result of a volley by Wagner sailing smack-dab into the net.
A kill by Mindy Poehler set up match point at 24-22 for Nicollet, but it found itself tied 24-24 after a forceover by Hillesheim as the latter of those two points.
Another back-and-forth with an ace by Cathedral’s Karlee Pfaff and a kill by Nicollet’s Emily Skrien knotted the teams at 25-25.
Two balls into the net – a service error by Wagner and an attack error by Kaitlyn Bode – sealed the third set and the match for Cathedral 27-25, causing a raucous celebration by the crowd and a big sigh of relief for Dietz.
“It shows that we can still overcome some of those communication errors or those letdowns,” Dietz said. “We hit quite a few balls out of bounds, but it still shows that we can overcome that and still work hard and make it happen and that’s what we did tonight.”