Kyle Kuether was hoping for a bounce back from his St. Mary’s volleyball team.
The Saints did just that on Thursday night, finishing off a marathon five-set West Region victory over Legacy at the St. Mary’s gym. St. Mary’s won the opening game, won a marathon decision in the third and finished strong in a 25-18, 19-25, 31-29, 27-29, 15-11 victory.
“We had a little reality check on Tuesday night against Jamestown in a game that we could have won,” Kuether said. “We just didn’t play very well. Coming back tonight, it was good to play another good team like Legacy. It was a fun match.”
The match had plenty of momentum shifts. In the third-game victory, St. Mary’s finally put it away on their sixth game point attempt. Legacy also had two shots at game point along the way.
“We’re very similar teams,” Kuether said. “We have a lot of good athletes and a lot of girls that can play a lot of different positions. So when you have two teams like that – they have a lot of experience, we have a lot of experience. I knew it wasn’t going to go in three, no matter who won. … I don’t think Legacy lost tonight – they played just as well as we did and we kind of just barely squeaked it out.”
“St. Mary’s just kept the ball coming back to our side and we just made a lot of errors down the stretch,” Legacy coach Jennifer Astle said.
The Saints finished the first set on a 7-3 run, winning 25-18. An 8-4 closing run gave the Sabers a 25-19 decision in the second to even the match at 1-1.
St. Mary’s took the momentum with the rollercoaster 31-29 third set. But Legacy answered with a 29-27 victory to send the match to a decisive fifth set. In the fourth, St. Mary’s opened up an early 10-2 lead, but Legacy answered with a 10-0 burst to grab a 12-10 advantage and it went back and forth from there.
Avoiding long runs was a key for the Saints.
“(The key was) not giving up the runs, except for that fourth set,” Kuether said. “We’ve been working on just eliminating our errors and coming back, not letting one point turn into three, four on a run.”
“At times, we were super confident and we didn’t look shook and then at other times it looked like we were terrified to be out there,” Astle said. “It was hard to keep their emotions level – they were real high and real low at times it seemed like.”
The Saints opened the decisive fifth on a 6-1 run. The Sabers pulled within 10-9 before St. Mary’s closed on a 5-2 run.
“They always go out and defend well,” Astle said of the Saints. “They play a very strong defense and they definitely did that tonight.”
Taylor Gerving led the Saints (7-7, 4-3 West Region) with 19 kills and seven aces, along with 12 digs. Hallie Schweitzer had 13 kills and a team-high four blocks. Elizabeth Peyerl added 10 kills, Avry Greff had 27 digs and 25 assists.
“We didn’t really have any one that had a huge night,” Kuether said. “We talked a lot yesterday about the whole team needing a huge night. So that’s actually what helped us, is everybody contributing – defense, offense, not just the girls that get the kills, but the girls in the back row that set it up. I think everybody just played awesome.”
Kaitlyn Emmil led Legacy (10-3, 4-2 West Region) with 15 kills and Taryn Allmaras added 11. Eva Abfalter and Kaitlyn Emmil each had a pair of blocks, Mikayla Fast had 30 digs, Emma Fricke dished out 50 assists and Emmil had three aces.
St. Mary’s hosts Watford City today, while Legacy is off until next Thursday, when the Sabers travel to Bismarck High.