MAYER – The senior year for Morgan Chmielewski has been one to remember for a number of reasons. Early on, it looked as if the libero on the Mayer Lutheran volleyball team wouldn’t get a senior season. Once the Minnesota State High School League reversed course and brought volleyball back, Chmielewski and her team had its sights set on some hardware with a conference and section title. Now the standout player for the Crusaders won’t get a chance at that either of those as the regular season will come to an end for Mayer Lutheran this week no matter how they do.
Of all the uncertainty and things taken away from Chmielewski this season, there’s one thing that can’t be taken away. Chmielewski recorded her 1,000th career dig Thursday night in Mayer Lutheran’s 3-0 (25-13, 25-14, 25-21) sweep of Norwood Young America.
“It feels really good,” Chmielewski said about reaching the milestone. “The whole time we were so full of energy. Without coach Grimsley, it was really hard, but we played at our level and it was really fun.”
Mayer Lutheran coach Joelle Grimsley wasn’t present at the game, but she was watching closely from home as her senior libero closed in on the milestone.
Chmielewski needed 14 digs coming into the match to reach the milestone. Although she was aware she was close to reaching it, she knew it was important to focus on playing her game.
“Everyone was kind of talking about it,” Chmielewski said. “I knew I just had to play like my regular self. We just needed to play our game and we did a very good job on defense overall. Our blocking was really good and they made it easy for me to get to my position.”
Early on, digs were hard to come by for Chmielewski as the Crusaders had their offense firing on all cylinders. Mayer Lutheran jumped out a 20-9 lead in set one and a 20-12 lead in set two to put the Raiders on their heels from the start.
After taking a commanding 2-0 lead thanks to their high-powered offense, Chmielewski recorded her 1,000th career dig midway through the third set.
“I was really hoping she’d get it tonight knowing that we might not get a game tomorrow,” Emma Lade said. “I was really glad she got it tonight.”
The Crusaders took care of business in set three, picking up their 10th sweep of the season. All 10 wins for Mayer Lutheran this season have come in three-straight sets.
“If we keep our energy high, we’ll do what we did tonight,” Lade said. We’ll just keep winning.”
While wins have piled up for the Crusaders this season, it hasn’t always been easy. The uncertainty that has surrounded this season has made things tough, but they’ve rallied together to make the most of it.
“It’s been really hard,” Chmielewski said. “With the supportive teammates and coaches we have, along with all our parents, it’s kind of kept us in check. It’ll be interesting to see what rules are like coming up, but it’s fun to just get some more games in.”
“It’s been crazy,” Lade added. “At first when we didn’t get a season, we all just kept working out. We were working hard before school started all summer. Then once we got the season, we were beyond excited. We were happy that we could play, and now it’s happening again. We’re sad and a little depressed, but at least we got some part of the season.”
Mayer Lutheran will close out its season by hosting the New Prague Trojans Friday afternoon. The Trojans, a Class AAA school, will give the Crusaders one of their toughest challenges of the season.
“This last game for us, especially playing a bigger school, it will be interesting to see how we play,” Chmielewski said. “If we play at our level, we’ll be good contenders with them.”
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