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Chargers defeat Greyhounds in 4

NEW ULM — In an early nonconference volleyball matchup between Minnesota Valley Lutheran and New Ulm Cathedral on Tuesday, it was the Chargers that made an early statement with a 25-16, 25-15, 19-25, 25-13 win at Martin Luther College.

Leading the way for MVL was Mara Weisensel with 25 kills and five blocks, while Maddie Pearson had 28 set assists, 11 digs, four ace serves and three blocks. For the MVL defense, Emma Nelson had 18 digs, while Abby Riederer added 11 digs.

For the Greyhounds, Maggie Fliszar had 11 kills, while Emily Schommer had 20 set assists and three ace serves. Gabby Rohlik also added three ace serves for Cathedral.

Unfortunately, the rivalry meeting saw both squads not at full health, with Cathedral missing one of its top overall players in middle hitter Sarah Mohr and MVL missing one of its top outside hitters in Haley Herfendal. The Chargers were also without junior libero Mikayla Bendix, forcing more changes in their lineup.

Mohr and Herfendal are both out with ankle injuries, while Bendix is out with a concussion. There is no exact timetable for the returns of any of the injured players, but Cathedral head coach Becky Wilfahrt said that Mohr could be out of action for several weeks, while MVL head coach Amy Pearson said that it was her hope to get Herfendal back by next week.

Bendix was at the match Tuesday to watch but was forced to leave early due to the noise affecting her.

Injuries aside, the match was a good chance for both teams to get a closer look at both their own depth and each other’s depth.

“We started three freshman, two sophomores and one senior, so it’s a pretty young lineup, and we’ve had to move some people into some [new] positions,” Wilfahrt said. “Lily Franta’s not a middle, that’s where she’s got to play right now because Sarah’s out. So, yeah, we’ve got some people in some different positions and we’re young, that’s a big piece of it — just trying to fill in right now until she’s back.”

Coach Pearson said that it’s always tough making adjustments due to injury early in the season but that it was a good learning experience.

“We’re still trying to figure that out with the new players coming on,” she said. “We’re still figuring that out, we tried to run a few different set plays out of serve receive, so that is a learning curve as we try to figure that out. … Obviously, we’ve got to work on serving. Four missed serves in Set 1 hurt with getting the momentum going.”

MVL stormed out to an early 8-3 lead in the opening set led by a pair of Weisensel kills, but the Greyhounds benefited on four MVL errors, three being service errors, to help tie things up at 8-all. With the Greyhounds now in front 15-13, MVL went on a 5-0 run to lead 18-15 and force a Cathedral timeout.

A 7-1 MVL run out of the timeout then closed out the first set.

Cathedral made things tough for MVL early on in the second set and created several tough returns and MVL errors to tie it up at 11-all after trailing 11-7 moments earlier. MVL answered quickly, though, and went on a late 5-0 run to lead 23-14 after an ace serve from Maddie Pearson.

A kill by Cathedral’s Megan Haala broke up the MVL run, but the Chargers got back-to-back points to end the set and take a 2-0 lead in the match.

The third set saw the Greyhounds bite back and take an early 15-10 lead after three consecutive MVL errors. A 5-0 MVL run that was capped off with an ace block from Weisensel tied it before the Greyhounds got a 6-0 run to lead 23-18 after a block by Sydnee Helget and a kill by Fliszar. The Greyhounds ended the set shortly after on a swing by Megan Haala that was tipped out of bounds.

MVL stormed out of the gate in the fourth set, taking a 12-3 lead before the Greyhounds closed the distance, 12-8, after four MVL errors. An ace serve by Rohlik had Cathedral down 16-12, but MVL slammed the door with a 9-1 run, getting three kills from Weisensel and an ace serve from Nelson during the run to end the match.

MVL (2-0) hosts Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart at 7 p.m. on Thursday, while Cathedral (1-2) hosts Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop at 7 p.m. Thursday.

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