By Jeremy Behnke
Journal Sports Editor
NEW ULM – Having faced each other for the third time in three weeks, Minnesota Valley Lutheran and New Ulm Cathedral had a pretty good idea of what the other one was going to do in Thursday’s Section 2A playoff volleyball match.
But in the end, the Greyhounds earned the sweep, 23-13, 25-18, 25-20. The No. 4 seed Greyhounds (16-8-1) play No. 1 seed Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart on Tuesday in Gaylord. MVL, which was the No. 5 seed, ends its season at 11-17.
“I think coming into this match, we knew that we could beat them, because we had done that before,”?Cathedral coach Stef Dietz said.?”We also knew that this is playoffs and everyone brings their ‘A’ game. But I thought we did a really good job of controlling the match. We came out fired up in that first [set] and we did a nice job on our offense.”
That familiarity with each other meant the Chargers had to be prepared and not make a lot of hitting mistakes, something that’s hurt them in the past.”
“We know that they play really good defense and we just had to keep swinging away,” MVL coach Sara Gieseke said.?”I was really proud of the girls, we didn’t have the hitting errors like we did last time. As long as we hit, I knew that we were going to stay in the game.”
While the second and third sets were competitive, the first one saw the Greyhounds jump out to a big lead early and cruise to the win. They led 7-2 after an MVL hitting error and a couple of kills by Kristin Mohr put the Greyhounds ahead 12-5.
Later, an MVL hitting error upped the Cathedral lead to 22-10 and MacKinnon Ehlenz ended the set with a kill, one of her nine for the match.
The second set saw both teams go back and forth as neither team was able to get any kind of a lead until late.
With the set tied at 13-13, the Greyhounds took advantage of some MVL hitting errors and took a 17-13 lead. Although it wasn’t a huge lead, it did create just enough separation for the Greyhounds as they went on to win 25-18, closing the set on an MVL hitting error.
“It was a matter taking control of the match, whether it be getting a big block or a key hit,” Dietz said.?”Every time we’d get the ball, it would be a sideout and we knew we had to keep the ball and get more than just one point. It was big to get the momentum back on our side.”
The third set was another battle for both teams. The Greyhounds took a three-point lead early on and it pretty much stayed that way for the entire set. Cathedral took a 10-7 lead and MVL fought to tie it at 17-17, but Cathedral slammed the door on MVL’s season when Ehlenz had a tip and MVL had a couple of hitting errors late.
For Cathedral, Morgan Schabert was 16-for-16 serving and Ehlenz was 13-for-13 serving with two aces, 13 digs and nine kills. Kristin Mohr was 12-for-12 serving with an ace, four ace blocks and eight kills and Amber Hillesheim had seven kills and seven digs. Morgan Schabert had 31 set assists and Karlee Pfaff had nine digs. Abby Hauser had seven digs.
For MVL, Laura Schoenherr had 29 set assists and Bekka Olsen had 12 kills and seven digs. Rylee Weisensel had eight kills and Johanna Kettner finished with six kills. Mariah Stein had seven digs.
The Greyhounds play BLHS, the top seed in the Section 2A, North Subsection playoffs Gaylord on Tuesday. BLHS defeated the Greyhounds earlier this year 3-1.
“We played them the first time, we did not have our best day and we were re-arranging our lineup,” Dietz said. “We’ve really developed this core of seven or eight that really play well together.”