Saints take care of business in 3

NEW ULM – The New Ulm volleyball team held decent leads in all three sets against St. James Area.

However, New Ulm could not hang onto any of them as St. James Area earned the 27-25, 25-22, 25-23 victory in a Big South Conference volleyball match on Tuesday.

The Eagles (2-13, 1-9 Big South) fought hard throughout the match and never got too far down at any point. They led by as much as six in the first two sets and five in the third, but squandered said leads during crunch time.

“We did a lot of good things tonight as far as running our offense and things like that,” New Ulm coach Zach Hansen said. “We didn’t finish at the end, which was the deal.”

The Saints (5-15, 3-7) were led by senior middle Desirae Mortenson’s 15 kills, including seven in the second set that carried them through the middle stretch scoring-wise.

Throughout much of the night, the Saints were effective in preventing the Eagles’ momentum from getting too out of hand before stealing it for themselves in the latter portions of each set.

New Ulm took no time jumping out to a 9-3 lead behind two service aces from senior middle Danielle Hogue and three opposing attack errors. New Ulm was able to keep its opponent at arm’s length until senior Nora Schmidt tied the match 22-22 with an ace and Mortensen notched a tip kill to give St. James Area the lead.

A dump by setter Kayla Hanson put the Saints at set point, but an opposing attack error and two kills by Megan Hulke gave New Ulm a 25-24 lead. However, St. James Area scored three-straight points to take the first set 27-25.

New Ulm again took an early lead before St. James Area used a 19-7 stretch to take a 21-15 lead. New Ulm fought back and tied it at 22-22 after a kill by Kayla Brandes at the end of a long volley. But again, St. James Area tallied three-straight to end the set and take a 2-0 lead in the match.

In the third set, New Ulm led 15-10 before St. James Area used a 6-1 run to tie it 16-16. After a kill from Madison Suess gave the Eagles a one-point lead at 17-16, the Saints scored six of the next eight points to lead 22-19.

Later, a hitting error pulled New Ulm to within one at 24-23, but a tip kill by Mortensen sealed the match for St. James Area.

Mackenzie Depew led the Eagles with five kills, while Hulke had four. Kayla Brandes had 12 set assists and 15 digs, while Emma Bute had 10 set assists. Sarah Longtin had 20 digs, while Suess had 15.

“I’m proud of the girls with how hard they work and that they keep at it each and every night,” Hansen said. “This hard work is noticed and I’m proud of them.”

New Ulm plays Thursday at Waseca.