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Chargers finding groove late, meet LCWM in Section 2AA playoffs

NEW ULM — While the Minnesota Valley Lutheran volleyball team doesn’t have the prettiest record this season, that doesn’t mean the Chargers aren’t capable of winning big matches.

MVL finished the regular season with a 10-13 record, but the tables may be turning just in time for the Chargers, now in Section 2AA.

Over the last five matches of the regular season, the Chargers went 4-1. The only loss was a sweep in a rematch against unbeaten Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s on Oct. 12.

The Chargers were the first team to force St. Mary’s to four sets in an earlier match this season on Sept. 21. New Ulm Cathedral was the only other team able to force St. Mary’s to a fourth set this season.

With the ability to compete with some of the tougher teams in the Tomahawk Conference, MVL head coach Amy Pearson believes her team is getting things going at a good time.

“I really feel like we are hitting our stride,” she said. “Where we hit some bumps early in the season, we have managed to smooth things out. We’ve fine-tuned our line up, but have plenty of depth when needed.”

The Chargers now turn their attention to Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial for a first-round Section 2AA playoff match at 7 p.m. Thursday at MVL High School. The Chargers, in a Class A-heavy conference, have had seven Class AA matches this season.

One of those Class AA matches came at home against LCWM on Oct. 7. The Chargers ended up sweeping the Knights in that match, but Pearson said that her team still needs to keep mistakes to a minimum.

“Re-watching the game film from Lake Crystal, it was easy to see it was a game of the least mistakes,” Pearson said. “Whichever team makes fewer mistakes will win the game.”

The Chargers were awarded the No. 4 seed in the playoffs, while the Knights got the No. 5 seed.

Pearson added that her team needs to keep momentum going as they begin playoffs.

“The biggest thing for us will be to keep our momentum going,” she said. “We finished our season strong but now have 10 [days] between our last game and first playoff game. That is a long time. The challenge will be to stay battle ready once we get to playoffs.”

Pearson said that she thinks her team’s defense and blocking will be their biggest attributes heading into the postseason.

It’s not surprising to see why with 137 total team blocks and 1,177 team digs.

Senior middle hitter Lili Mohror, the team’s second top blocker this season with 40 total blocks, will unfortunately be unavailable in the playoffs due to injury.

However, the Chargers still have numerous senior leaders to help carry the defense such as Kaylee Hunter (35 total blocks, 166 digs), Ella Schlei (70 total blocks), Abbie Riederer (226 digs), Samantha Dalueg (214 digs) and Morgan Paulsen (185 digs).

Riederer also leads the offense this season with 170 kills and 22 ace serves, while Schlei has 165 kills. Dalueg and Hunter have 313 and 312 set assists, respectively, for the Chargers. Sophomore Gabbie Bleick has contributed to the offense as well this season for MVL with 92 kills and 19 ace serves.

The senior-heavy Chargers (10 seniors) will look to continue their late surge on Thursday.

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