CHASKA – The Mayer Lutheran volleyball team isn’t afraid to take on anyone. Going up against a ranked team for the 11th time this season already, the Crusaders gave the Chaska Hawks all they could handle and then some in their matchup. Despite pushing the Hawks throughout the match, Chaska was just too much down the stretch in a 3-1 (25-22, 25-23, 19-25, 25-21) win on their home floor Tuesday night.
“They’re fast,” Mayer Lutheran coach Joelle Grimsley said. “They were so fast. We couldn’t keep up with them right away. We haven’t seen anything that fast. After that, we found our grove and put some pressure on them. We found some spots that they don’t do well in and went after them. We made them a little nervous so that was fun.”
Chaska had the early edge in sets one and two but the Crusaders never went away quietly. In the three sets they lost, Mayer Lutheran rattled off eight points on the verge of set point to make the Hawks hold them off.
“It’s awesome to finish a set,” Grimsley said. “We wanted to finish that last set a little better but we made a few too many errors and they found a hole in our defense. They’re smart. They’re a great team. We made two errors at the end and we can’t do that.”
Even though the Crusaders played well in the first two sets, they found themselves down 2-0. Needing some momentum, Gabby Wachholz delivered the spark for Mayer Lutheran rattling off five-straight aces in the third set to give the Crusaders the lead and force a fourth set. Chaska would close things down in the fourth set holding off another Mayer Lutheran rally to seal the win.
The Crusaders had a new look to them as senior Madeline Guetzkow returned to the lineup after missing two weeks with energy. Guetzkow’s presence was big for Mayer Lutheran all game long coming through in big moments as one of their leaders and captains.
“It was fun to see our girls get back in that rhythm,” Grimsley said. “We talked a lot about October 1. That’s the time we start turning things up. Tonight was a great example of that. We were as scrappy as we’ve ever been.”
With the loss, Mayer Lutheran fell to 15-4 on the season. All four losses for the Crusaders have come against ranked teams, three of which are in bigger classes than them. With four games left in the regular season, the Crusaders will be looking to gel together as a team and get ready to make another postseason run.
“For us, it’s chemistry,” Grimsley said about the biggest things for the team to work on in the next two weeks. “We’re still working hard on our chemistry. We have some times when people aren’t sure if they should go for the ball or not or who is going to get it. Skill-wise, we’re getting so much better. It’s just that chemistry and working together that we need.”
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Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports