MVL volleyball team knocks off St. Mary’s

Staff photo by Steve Muscatello Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Grace Peterson spikes the ball between Cassie Heinrichs and Ali Beltz (7) of Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s Tuesday at Martin Luther College in New Ulm. For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com

NEW ULM — Minnesota Valley Lutheran defeated Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s 19-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-20 in a nonconference volleyball match on Tuesday.

It was the season opener for MVL and it was the first loss for the Knights, who played their third match of the season.

St. Mary’s held a brief lead in all four sets, but it was only able to win the first one before MVL won three straight to win the match.

“I think the girls had a lot of confidence in themselves and their teammates,” MVL coach Sara Gieseke said. “They did a fantastic job. It was a team effort.”

There were three ties in the first set after the Knights led. MVL made a few mistakes which resulted in St. Mary’s winning it 25-19.

In the second set, St. Mary’s wasn’t able to connect on key hits on the volleyball, but the Knights kept things close. MVL was able to get the winning point after a long volley to even it at a set apiece.

The third set was a close one with neither team having more than a three-point edge throughout it. There were four ties with MVL prevailing 25-23.

MVL was able to build a 14-5 lead in the fourth set. The Chargers grabbed the momentum after tying it at 4-apiece. MVL was able to take advantage of some St. Mary’s miscues and make it 20-8. The teams traded points and MVL was able to win the fourth set 25-20.

“We struggled offensively tonight all the way around. Our defense was good,” St. Mary’s coach Jen Walter said. “MVL had a strong game. When the offense struggles, it’s hard to win games.”

Haley Birkholz had 30 digs and 10 kills for MVL. Maddie Pearson added 15 set assists with 14 digs and Lauren Paulsen added eight digs and six blocks.

Ali Beltz had 14 kills and 19 digs for the Knights. Jody Hansen added 31 set assists and 34 digs.