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Greyhounds break in new gym floor with sweep of Loyola

Staff photo by Travis Rosenau The New Ulm Cathedral volleyball team hosted Mankato Loyola on its new gym floor at the high school Thursday. This was the first varsity sporting event played on the new gym floor.

NEW ULM — New Ulm Cathedral broke in its new gym floor Thursday with a dominant 25-10, 25-17, 25-10 sweep of Mankato Loyola in nonconference volleyball action.

This was the first varsity sporting event played on Cathedral’s new gym floor, which replaced an original gym floor that was more than 70 years old.

Breaking in the new floor might not even be the best way to describe Thursday’s win either as the Greyhounds didn’t have to rely much on their attack. The three-set win saw Megan Haala turn in a team-best eight kills, while Sydnee Helget followed with five kills.

The serving game is where Cathedral racked up a large portion of their points, led by Lily Brennan’s nine ace serves. Jaylin Hartness picked up five aces also for Cathedral, while Madelyn Haala had four aces.

“That was one thing we talked about as a team,” Cathedral head coach Becky Wilfahrt said. “I asked them, ‘What’s one thing that you thought went really well?’ They felt they served aggressively, and even some of the serving errors, they were aggressive serving errors. We had girls jump serving, we had girls trying to hit sideline, things like that. So I would say that was probably the biggest positive is just their aggressive serving tonight.”

Staff photo by Travis Rosenau New Ulm Cathedral’s Lily Brennan hits the ball during a home match with Mankato Loyola on Thursday at Cathedral High School.

Brennan also had four kills and five digs in the win, while Megan Haala added five digs and four aces and Annie Edwards had 12 set assists and two blocks.

The Greyhounds jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first set before a serving error got Loyola on the board. A 14-1 Cathedral run followed to give the Greyhounds a comfortable 19-2 lead.

Loyola picked up the majority of its points after that on errors before the Greyhounds refocused and ended the set on a 4-0 run.

The Crusaders got their first lead of the match midway through the second set after an ace by Gabby Bemmels and a kill by Amelia Speckel put them ahead 12-10. The Greyhounds were quick to respond with a 4-0 run, though, to take a 14-12 lead.

Loyola got a few kills from Maddie Huiras late in the set to keep things close, but the Greyhounds ended the set on a kill from Helget for a 2-0 lead in the match.

The Greyhounds, led by Brennan’s serve, grabbed an early 10-2 lead in the third set. Brennan’s serve was clearly bothering Loyola as several return attempts hit the ceiling during the run.

A kill and a block by Helget put Cathedral up 21-6 before Loyola got a 4-0 run to trail 21-10.

A kill apiece from Brennan and Megan Haala was followed up with back-to-back Loyola errors to complete the set and sweep for Cathedral.

While the 2022 Greyhounds were the first team to win a varsity sporting event on the new home floor, Wilfahrt said her team was more happy just to be home again.

“They were just excited to get a home game, to get back in the gym,” Wilfahrt said. “We’ve been practicing at our Elementary [school gym] for over a month, and so just to get back in their gym that they’re used to and get back home — because we’ve had to move a few games now and we’ve been on the road for over a month — so that was kind of the biggest thing. And we did talk about, ‘Start it out with a bang.’ Now we get a bunch of home games, hopefully in a row here, and carry that momentum.”

Cathedral is at a St. James tournament on Saturday morning before returning home for a nonconference match with Nicollet on Monday.

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