NEW ULM - Sarah Burke put the ball on the floor when it counted as Minnesota Valley Lutheran swept Sleepy Eye St. Mary's 26-24, 28-26, 25-23 in a Tomahawk Conference volleyball match on Tuesday.
Tuesday night was Dig Pink night for the Tomahawk Conference, and MVL did its best to make the event a great success as all the girls wore pink and the majority of the fans did as well.
"It means a lot to us to support those who are struggling with breast cancer," said Burke, a senior. "We are praying for them, and it is a great honor to represent them."
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s Deonna Brinkman (2) and Lexi Fischer (3) attempt to block a spike from Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Rebekka Olsen (15) Tuesday at MVL.
Even though the Chargers swept the Knights, each set was decided by only two points.
Burke and MVL junior Rebekka Olsen powered MVL's offense in the first set. Maddy Helget was the dominant force on the other side of the net for St. Mary's, but the Chargers closed out the set when MVL junior Rylee Weisensel came up with a huge kill.
It seemed as if St. Mary's would counter by winning the second set when they were up 20-14, but MVL swung the momentum in its direction after senior Martha Johnston saved a ball that was almost in the stands and her fellow senior Carlie Maasz recorded the kill.
"We gave up 10 points in leads in sets two and three," St. Mary's head coach Nicole Jensen said. "When we let teams back in when we have them beat, we are going to lose."
Burke took over from there as the Chargers seemed to set the ball up to her time after time while she just continued to record kill after kill.
"Sarah is doing a great job for us," MVL head coach Sara Gieseke said. "She has a lot of power when she gets her approach in."
Johnston ended the comeback she started with the set-winning kill as the Chargers won the second set 28-26.
The Chargers were forced to come back from a deficit again in the third set after trailing 15-8, but they were up for the task as Burke and Maasz each had huge kills as they came back to win the final set 25-23.
"We knew they were a good team coming in," Burke said. "The first time we played them we didn't play the way we know we can. Tonight we came out and did what we had to do to come out with a win."
The Chargers were led on offense by Burke with 13 kills and Weisensel with nine kills.
Maasz and Mariah Stein led the team with 10 digs apiece, while Johnston recorded nine digs to go along with her game-high 31 set assists.
Deonna Brinkman led the Knights offensively with 11 kills and seven aces, while Lexi Weiss and Helget had 14 and 11 digs, respectively.
MVL (11-11-2, 3-3) plays again on Thursday when it travels to Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop, while St. Mary's (7-7-1, 2-4) plays next Thursday at Wabasso.