St. Mary’s knocks off Nicollet in 3

Staff photo by Steve Muscatello Nicollet’s Jill Thompson (5) tries to block a spike from Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s Cassie Heinrichs (13) Monday at SESM.

SLEEPY EYE — The Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s volleyball team, coming off of tournament play this past Saturday, remained hot on Monday night after sweeping Nicollet in nonconference volleyball action.

The Knights (7-4) won 25-15, 25-18, 25-20.

Nicollet (1-3) struggled with its passing in the first set, falling down 18-8 at one point in the set before climbing back within 6, 18-12, after a 4-0 run. The Knights continued to apply pressure and took advantage of more Nicollet attack errors, however, to close out the first set.

The second and third sets saw improvement from the Raiders as they came back from a 15-9 hole to tie things up at 16-16 in the second set. They also stopped an 8-0 run in the third set with a 7-0 run that was led by a block and three consecutive kills by middle hitter Jill Thompson.

The Knights ended the second set on a 9-2 run, though, before ending the third set after a Nicollet error.

Nicollet, after losing top setter and senior leader Nicole Hall all year due to a knee injury, has been shuffling its lineup the past few games, trying to find a way to adjust to the year without Hall. Hall was at the game on Monday, despite just recently having surgery.

“She’s been my only setter for three years, so it’s definitely a hole,” Raiders head coach Judy Radke said of Hall. “Not even just the setting, but the leadership on the court. And we’ve been filled in okay in positions, but we haven’t found that person, that leader that never gives up and won’t lose, so we need seniors and juniors to [step up] — we saw Jill Thompson step up tonight. She’s definitely a go-to, we just need to get the ball in her hands more. We passed better as the night went on. I think now we’ve got a lineup, so we can go forward, I hope.”

St. Mary’s, after a long week that ended with a third-place finish at Sleepy Eye’s tournament this past Saturday, was looking to get a quick win on Monday and did just that.

“We played a solid all-around game,” Knights head coach Jen Walter said. “I thought our defense was good. Nicollet obviously had a strong middle hitter (Thompson) and at times, she got the ball past us. But the girls stayed just nice and consistent and didn’t let that turn into too many points and too many runs.”

The Knights were led by Cassie Heinrichs, who had eight kills, 10 digs and a pair of aces, while Sydney Windschitl added six kills. Lexie Anderson had five kills and two aces for the Knights, while Leah Weiss had 13 digs and 12 set assists.

Madison Mathiowetz had four kills, 11 set assists and 10 digs, while Lauren Hoffman added 12 digs.

Nicollet was led by Thompson, who had 19 kills and four blocks, while Hailey Stoecker had 13 digs and Halle Johnson had 24 set assists.

Nicollet is back in action at 7 p.m. Tuesday for a road game with Martin County West, while the Knights are at New Ulm Cathedral for a 7 p.m. game Tuesday.