MVL finishes strong in sweep

File photo by Steve Muscatello Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Lauren Paulsen digs the ball during a recent match at MVL.

NEW ULM — Night and day.

That’s how Minnesota Valley Lutheran volleyball coach Amy Pearson described her team’s play from the beginning of the season until now. The first-year coach has watched her team improve enough to be one of the top teams in the Tomahawk Conference, and on Thursday the Chargers finished the Tomahawk Conference portion of the schedule with a 25-17, 25-16, 25-8 sweep against Cedar Mountain.

The Chargers got off to a bit of a slow start in the first set. However, once their offense got going, they weren’t going to be stopped.

“A couple matches this year, we have had a little bit slower of a start,” Pearson said. “I just tell myself that it’ll get going eventually, it just took us a little bit to get firing on all cylinders but once we did, it was a lot of fun to watch. We have a lot of players that can hit from different spots and we have a well-balanced attack and that certainly helps keep teams off-balanced as to where the attack is coming from.”

Junior setter Maddie Pearson distributed the ball well all match, finishing with 31 set assists.

Her favorite target was Mara Weisensel, who finished with 15 kills. Hannah Marzinske had a solid all-around match with five kills, nine digs and five ace serves and Lauren Paulsen had six kills and nine digs. Haley Herfendal finished with 12 digs and Abby Riesgraf had 11 digs.

While the Chargers and Cougars were even for most of the first set, the Chargers eventually pulled away as the Cougars had no answer for Weisensel and company up front. MVL broke a 10-10 tie and led 18-13 after a Cedar Mountain hitting error.

The Chargers had some early struggles again in the second set, but they pulled away late. That late momentum in the second set carried over to the third, where they jumped out to a 7-0 lead behind the serving of Marzinske.

“We obviously have some bread-and-butter hitters, our go-to girls, but we know it’s getting later in the season and teams are going to expect that and be prepared for it,” coach Pearson said. “We’ve really been working on mixing it up, trying to mix in some back row attacks and mix up the attacks in the front row.”

Eighth-grader Nadia Meyers had 11 digs and four set assists for the Cougars and Natalie Lux had eight kills and five digs. Megan Sandgren had six digs.

The Chargers improved to 19-4 overall and 7-1 in the Tomahawk Conference. They travel to Madelia on Monday.

Cedar Mountain (3-12) plays at a tournament in Marshall on Friday and Saturday.