Maple River downs MVL in 3 sets

By Jake Calhoun

Journal Sports Writer

NEW ULM – Little mistakes proved costly for Minnesota Valley Lutheran as it fell to Maple River 25-19, 25-18, 25-21 in a nonconference volleyball match on Tuesday.

The Chargers (0-8, 0-1 Tomahawk) held their own in all three sets, but let a total of 18 attack errors and eight service errors take them out of position to take a game or two.

“We had a bunch of little errors – either hitting in the net, service errors – that shot ourselves in the foot when we had some comebacks,” MVL coach Sara Gieseke said. “We were always right in each set, so I was really happy about that.”

The Eagles (3-2, 1-0 Gopher) fell behind early in the first frame, but used a 10-3 run to take a 17-11 lead. Sophomore outside hitter Madison Schirmer accounted for six of her match-high 15 kills in the first set, willing the Eagles to a 25-19 win.

Maple River rallied off three-straight points to begin the second set before hitting the ball right into the net to give MVL the serve. MVL took a 4-3 lead after a kill and a booming block from Haley Birkholz, but a serve out of bounds gave Maple River the ball right back and tied the match 4-4.

After a few back-and-forths, Maple River used an 8-2 run to go up 16-9. However, MVL scored the next five points to force Maple River coach Mike Walters to call a timeout and regroup.

A service ace by Brittany Sanders – the first of a team-high three on the night – pulled MVL to within one at 16-15, but Maple River kept its distance with a kill from Schirmer and an ace from Halley Rennpferd. Maple River then closed out the frame on a 7-2 run to take a 2-0 lead in the match.

MVL had a chance to come back late in the third set, challenging Maple River at match point with kills from Sanders, Hannah Marzinske and Mariah Munsen to make it 24-21. However, senior outside Rachel Larson closed out the match with her one-and-only kill on the night to give Maple River the sweep.

Birkholz led the Chargers with 11 kills and 15 digs, doing her best to keep her teammates’ heads up through much of the night.

“She has to be consistent; she’s one of our big hitters and needs to be consistent with serving and hitting,” Gieseke said. “She needs to be a leader out there not just verbally, but also with what she does out there on the court.”

Marzinske had five kills and Sanders and Maddie Spurgin each had four kills apiece. Sanders had 15 set assists, while Mackenzie Helget had 10 set assists. Hannah Biedenbender and Spurgin each had nine digs apiece.

MVL returns to Tomahawk Conference action on Thursday, when it travels to Wabasso.