Mayer Lutheran won its only state volleyball title 34 years ago. In that 1982 Class 1A championship match, the Crusaders defeated Becker by a score of 19-17, 18-11. That’s right, winning two sets meant a state title from the first state tourney in 1974 until 1985, when winning three sets became the norm.
Joelle Grimsley has been the Mayer Lutheran coach since 1993 and has taken the team to state 10 times. On Saturday they will return to the spot their school last saw in 1982, in the hopes of adding a second championship trophy to the collection.
On Thursday the top-seeded Crusaders had cruised to a 3-0 quarterfinal victory over Stephen-Argyle. Their task in Friday’s semifinals was a much rougher go because they needed five games to defeat Heritage Christian 3-2. The score broke both ways and the final was 25-19, 22-25, 25-18, 22-25, 15-4.
“(Before the fifth set) we talked about getting back to our basics,” Grimsley said. “We had to stay aggressive and not get into a tipping game. We were there to win and we had to stay aggressive.”
The biggest challenge for the Crusaders was Heritage Christian senior Bella Lien. She stands 6 feet, 2 inches and is a force at the net. She will play at North Dakota State University.
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that girl is 6-2. Yikes,’ ” said Grimsley.
Heritage Christian had also played five sets in defeating Underwood on Thursday. Ten sets within 24 hours can be a tall order.
“I saw the girls still playing well,” said Heritage Christian coach Tom Fuglestad. “I think Mayer really surged in that fifth set. Two five-setters in a row on consecutive days certainly could have taken a toll but they battled with everything they had.”
--Caledonia advanced to the title match against Mayer Lutheran with a five-set victory of its own. The Warriors held off Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 20-25, 25-19, 19-25, 25-21, 16-14. It was Caledonia’s first five-set match of the season.
“We’ve never been pushed to a fifth set this season,” said Warriors ninth-grade middle hitter Lydia Lange. “We didn’t want the first one to be a loss.”
TMB coach Katie Gervais said, “I thought both teams were so aggressive. They were very confident. Both teams were good, they just didn’t back down. That’s the kind of game you want. … I think it was just a good battle back and forth.”State Volleyball Tournament
Thursday’s 1A Quarterfinals
Mayer Lutheran defeated Stephen-Argyle 3-0
Heritage Christian defeated Underwood 3-2
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton defeated Kimball 3-0
Caledonia defeated Cook County 3-0Friday’s 1A Semifinals
Mayer Lutheran defeated Heritage Christian 3-2
Caledonia defeated Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 3-2 Friday’s 1A Consolation
Underwood defeated Stephen-Argyle 3-1
Kimball defeated Cook County 3-0Saturday’s 1A Matches
9 a.m., fifth place/ Underwood vs. Kimball
11 a.m., third place/ Heritage Christian vs. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton
1 p.m., championship/ Mayer Lutheran vs. Caledonia
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