BY ROB LAPLANTE
The St. Michael-Albertville volleyball team struggled in its trip to Marshall, MN. But early in the season, the Knights are winning the matches that count the most.
A banged up Knights team posted a 1-4 record at a recent trip to Marshall, for the Southwest Minnesota Challenge. With junior Meagan Ghinter missing some time with injury, the Knights limped back into conference play last week and came away with a 3-2 win over Monticello and a 3-0 sweep of Big Lake.
After losing the first game 25-21 last Tuesday to Monticello, the Knights took a 2-1 match lead winning games two and three by identical 25-14 scores.
Playing without Ghinter, the Magic forced a fifth game, winning a close game four 27-25. The Knights eventually sealed the win with a 15-8 deciding game.
“A big lift for us in the Monticello win was how sophomore Kate Olson stepped in for Meagan in the back row and she passed well and defended well,” said head coach Ryan Dehnel.
The Knights carried their momentum into Thursday’s showdown with Big Lake. STMA got a lift when both injured players Ghinter and junior Courtney Wooters returned to action. The Knights would sweep all three games and improved its conference record (as of Monday) to 3-0 in the Mississippi 8.
Dehnel said he thought senior captains Becky Hackenmueller and Candice Yager had strong games.
“The usual suspects stepped up for us against Big Lake,” Dehnel said. “Candice played strong defense and served well and Becky hit around .300 for us, which was her best match of the season.”
STMA improved its overall record to 5-4 with a 3-1 win at Andover. The Knights won the match by scores of 25-19, 25-22, 19-25, 25-19. Tuesday they played at Cambridge-Isanti. Thursday they return home for a 7 p.m. match against Buffalo.
“The next few weeks is going to be a good test,” Dehnel said. “The girls are taking a step in the right direction, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.”