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Greyhounds prep for rematch with Raiders in 2A playoffs

File photo by Travis Rosenau New Ulm Cathedral’s Lily Franta (6) is congratulated by teammate Emily Schommer (9) after setting the school’s career digs record on Oct. 19 at Cathedral High School. Also pictured in the back left is Annie Edwards.

NEW ULM — With a 19-win season, the most wins for a New Ulm Cathedral volleyball team since 1993, the Greyhounds are running into the postseason this year with experience and confidence.

The Greyhounds (19-5) ended their regular season with a trio of tough matchups against BOLD (20-4), Nicollet (17-11) and Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s (25-0). While they fell in five sets to BOLD on Oct. 11 and dropped a four-setter to St. Mary’s this past Tuesday, the Greyhounds were able to top the Raiders in five sets this past Monday in Nicollet.

Cathedral will host Nicollet for a rematch at 7 p.m. Thursday. This time, however, the stakes are higher as it will be a Section 2A, North Subsection quarterfinals playoff match.

The Raiders (No. 5 seed) didn’t back down in the battle with Cathedral (No. 4 seed) on Monday, but Cathedral extinguished Nicollet’s comeback hopes with a dominant 15-7 win in Set 5.

Greyhounds head coach Becky Wilfahrt said that the Raiders had a tough defense on Monday that didn’t go away.

“We didn’t come out strong, we finished strong, which was good,” Wilfahrt said of Monday’s win. “I think defensively they just didn’t go away. We got caught a couple of times watching these really great hits that we had, and then [Nicollet] found a way to keep them in play. That’s going to be the toughest thing is that we’ve got to keep playing and not get frustrated when the ball isn’t going down for us.”

The Raiders are led this season by senior setter Marah Hulke, who has 174 kills, 402 set assists and 264 digs. Brooklyn Bode has 172 kills, 212 digs and 41 blocks also for Nicollet this season, while Hayley Selby has 144 kills, 247 digs, 45 blocks and 38 ace serves.

The Raiders also have Brooklyn Gohr (139 kills, 60 aces) and Olivia Whitmore (129 kills) as top contributors this year.

As for the final three matches of the regular season in general, Wilfahrt said that her team showed what they were capable of regardless of how some of those matches ended.

“As far as positives, we played with every single one of them,” Wilfahrt said. “BOLD, that could have gone either way. [Tuesday] against St. Mary’s, we had big leads in several games, and I think if we would have stuck with it, I think there would have been a different outcome. We started playing a little bit safe in Game 2. I think the positives are they know they can play with any one of these teams, it’s just now we need to get that consistent play and we need to stay aggressive.”

Sydnee Helget leads the Greyhounds in both kills and blocks this season with 278 kills and 37 1/2 blocks. Lily Brennan (179 kills, 214 digs), Megan Haala (176 kills, 283 digs) and Jenna Hotovec (161 kills, 249 digs) are three other key players and attackers for the Greyhounds this season.

The attacks don’t get going, however, without good passing and setting. Senior setter Emily Schommer, despite missing five matches to start the season due to injury, has racked up 348 set assists this season. She also passed the 1,000-assist career milestone this season and now sits at 1,163 career set assists.

Annie Edwards has been another top setter for the Greyhounds and filled in nicely for the team when Schommer was out. Edwards has maintained a spot on the court this season and has 357 set assists.

Another senior leader that reached a milestone recently was Lily Franta, who set the school career digs mark in the four-set loss to St. Mary’s on Tuesday. She now sits at 919 career digs and has 222 digs this season.

“When they started back as freshmen, they had lofty goals to hit 2,000 set assists and 1,000 digs,” Wilfahrt said of her two seniors. “And they’ve had to deal with injuries, shortened season, quarantine, things like that. They did a great job of readjusting those goals, understanding team comes first and just kind of went with it, understanding that, ‘Hey, I can achieve this, I might not reach this one, but I’m not going to quit working for it.'”

Schommer and Franta’s next goal will be to keep their senior seasons going past Thursday.

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