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Knights pull off sweep over Greyhounds

Staff photo by Travis Rosenau Sleepy Eye St. Marys’ Madison Mathiowetz (3) and Katelyn Rutscher (8) attempt to block an attack from New Ulm Cathedral’s Sydnee Helget during the Knights’ Tomahawk Conference match with the Greyhounds on Thursday at Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s High School.

SLEEPY EYE — In an early-season battle between two of the top volleyball teams in the Tomahawk Conference on Thursday night, Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s pulled off the sweep over New Ulm Cathedral 25-18, 25-18, 25-14.

The Knights (10-0, 2-0) were led by Madison Mathiowetz’s 18 kills, seven digs and three blocks, while Jaci Domeier had eight kills, eight digs and two blocks. Bella Hoffmann added 18 set assists and eight digs for the Knights, while Allie Labat had 13 set assists, Julia Helget added 10 digs and Abby Schwartz had six kills.

Knights head coach Jen Walter said that her team knew what to expect from Cathedral coming into the match and she was glad they did what was needed to pick up the big win.

“We played each other a lot over the summer, so I think we both came in knowing each other really well,” Walter said of Cathedral. “We knew what to expect, we knew they had big hitters, our blockers worked really hard this week preparing for them. We had a good game against Le Sueur-Henderson on Tuesday that prepared us for some bigger hitters. But we were just ready to play defense. … We knew we had to stop them defensively at the net or we had to dig, and I think we did both well.”

Cathedral (9-2, 3-1) was led by Sydnee Helget’s eight kills, while Megan Haala had six kills and three blocks. Emily Schommer added 14 set assists for the Greyhounds.

In the first set, a 4-0 run capped off on a kill by Mathiowetz put the Knights up 14-9 and forced a Cathedral timeout. The Knights added two more kills by Mathiowetz to stretch the run into a 6-0 run before Cathedral broke it up on a kill by Sydnee Helget to trail 16-10.

The Greyhounds got within 3 after that, but the Knights held on and ended the first game with a kill and an ace.

Trailing 2-0 after a kill by Sydnee Helget and an attack error, the Knights erupted for a 10-0 run to lead 10-2, getting five kills from Mathiowetz during the run. The Knights stretched their lead to as much as 9 in the set and closed the set on a block by Reagan Severson.

The third set saw St. Mary’s pull out to a 10-6 lead after three consecutive Cathedral errors. The Knights went up 15-10 on an ace from Julia Helget, and after Cathedral picked up a pair of points on an error and a violation, St. Mary’s rumbled forward with an 8-0 run to lead 23-12. An attack by Schwartz was knocked out of play to close the set and match.

Cathedral’s Ava Brennan, who was starting in place of an injured player as a defensive specialist, left midway through the first set with a shoulder injury and did not return.

Greyhounds head coach Becky Wilfahrt said that the team was already short-handed, and the injury to Brennan didn’t help things.

“This is a very pieced-together lineup, and we knew that coming in,” Wilfahrt said. “Then our pieced-together lineup lasted 12 points. She [Brennan] dislocated her shoulder, so she will be out for quite a while. Really the only thing we talked about coming in is we haven’t had a full lineup all season, and we have found ways to win games without it. And we know that that’s the reality for at least the next week — probably the next week and a half — we’re not going to have a full lineup. We’re just going to have to give some other girls a chance to step up and get some playing time and hopefully we’ll get a little bit more comfortable as the season goes on.”

The Knights are at Minnesota Valley Lutheran for a conference match on Tuesday, while Cathedral travels to Mankato Loyola for nonconference action Tuesday.

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