PREP VOLLEYBALL: Royals not satisfied with just being back at the state tournament

WATERTOWN – The Watertown-Mayer volleyball team is back at the state tournament for a third-straight year. That’s not where they want the story to end.

Despite going 0-2 in their past two appearances at the Class AA state tournament, the Royals have one simple goal in mind this time around.

“The message is that we don’t settle,” W-M coach Andrea Raser said. “We’re there to play until Saturday. Our goal, we always want to win that last game of the season. No matter what happens on Thursday, we still have two more days of the state tournament. That’s what we’re playing for. We’re playing to go out there and not settle.”

While the past two trips to the state tournament haven’t gone as planned for the Royals, they know this year is different. They have some big-time talent with experience back, as well as some younger talent eager to snap that streak this season.

There’s a sense of change surrounding the Royals this season. For junior Paige Thibault, the bond and chemistry this team has this season is something she hasn’t seen before. It’s something that has helped the Royals all season long.

“The biggest difference between this group (and last year), I think, is truly the bond,” Thibault said. “Our team this year is probably the strongest team that I’ve ever been on in any sport. I’ve never had a bond like I have with this team. That’s something that is just amazing, and I think that has been honestly helped us get to state this year and earn that section title.”

That bond and relationship the Royals have with one another has them as the No. 4 seed in the Class AA state tournament. They’ll face No. 5 Concordia Academy in the Class AA quarterfinals, a team they’ve already beaten earlier this season.

“They have an awesome team all around,” Raser said. “They have a really big hitter in (Kira Fallert), who’s an outside hitter. She had a great game against Academy of Holy Angels when we were watching them on Saturday. We know that we have to take care of business on defense, and also on serve/receive so we can run our offense.”

While W-M knows they’ve already beaten the Beacons once this year, they know that they’ll need to come ready to play and know there will be changes made on both sides.

“We kind of know their tendencies,” Thibault said. “We’re ready to take them on again. We’ve talked a lot about, both teams, have gotten a lot better towards the end of the season since we played them so early on. We’ve talked about changes and what we’re going to do to try and beat them.”

However the Royals do in their first match of the state tournament, the message and goal remains the same. They are here to play until Saturday. Only nine teams in the state get to end their season with a win. The Royals will be looking to be one of them.

“That’s the thing. We know that, win or lose, we’ll play either Stewartville or Annandale,” Raser said. “We have game film on Annandale, and we have nothing on Stewartville. We’re also playing at the same time, so we don’t get that luxury of watching them play. It’s just kind of picking at stats and trying to prepare for either team for whatever way it goes. In reality, this is the third time. The girls are going in and there’s a couple of girls who have been there two times now. This is their third time going. They understand that we’re not going to settle just because we got there. We’re going to keep fighting. You want to play that Saturday game.”

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