All of the pieces fell into place Friday for the New Haven volleyball Lady Shamrocks.
New Haven went 4-2 in MSHSAA Class 1 State Tournament pool games to reach Saturday’s championship match.
The Lady Shamrocks forged splits with Northland Christian and Valle Catholic and moved into the championship round with a sweep of Winona.
During pool play, Northland Christian was the top team. The defending state champion went 5-1 in games. New Haven was next at 4-2 while Valle went 3-3 and Winona ended at 0-6.
“I thought we played two very good first sets against Valle and Northland Christian,” New Haven Head Coach Jaime Hoener said. “Then, the second set was a combination of us not playing as well and the other teams playing quite a bit better. We were able to jump out on each and maybe surprise them a little bit. Against Winona, I thought we really started to play together a little more. Winona is hurt and they’ve got a ton of kids out right now. That’s unfortunate for them and we tried to take advantage of that.”
The Lady Shamrocks did what they needed to do in the first two matches against last year’s state finalists.
Against Valle Catholic, New Haven won the first game, 25-19, but Valle took the second, 25-12.
“I don’t like to split right off the bat, but that’s a heck of a lot better than taking a loss,” Hoener said. “It just comes down to one or two sets. You try to stress the importance of every single play. You never know in volleyball how that’s going to affect the game. That showed how important it was.”
In the Northland Christian match, New Haven won the first game, 25-21, but Northland Christian won the second contest, 25-16.
“I knew we had to be ready to go right off the bat,” Hoener said. “That helped. Once we got the lead on both of those teams (Valle and Northland Christian), we played free and easy and pretty calm. That’s when we are at our best.”
Facing Winona, New Haven knew it could move into the championship match if it could sweep, and the Lady Shamrocks did so, 25-14, 25-17.
“We knew going into the Northland Christian-Valle game, we needed one of those teams to just sweep that so we would be in a good position,” Hoener said. “We also knew we had to carry out our end of the deal and make sure we won both against Winona. We did that and did a lot of hoping that things would turn out on the other side, too.”
New Haven and Northland Christian won the final matches by sweeps, setting up Saturday’s championship.
In the pool opener, Emma Engelbrecht and Kate Ruediger tied for the kills lead with six apiece.
Lauren Gerlemann had two kills while Mackenzie Bauer and Claire Meyer each had one.
Ruediger and Gerlemann each had five digs. Bauer posted four and Meyer and Makenzie Munsinger each had two digs.
Bauer posted 14 assists and Meyer added one.
Meyer served the lone ace.
Engelbrecht had two solo blocks. Gerlemann posted two block assists. McKenzie Overschmidt, Engelbrecht, Bauer and Meyer each had one block assist.
New Haven fed Engelbrecht in the second pool match and she knocked down 16 of New Haven’s 23 kills. She hit .583 for the match.
Gerlemann was next with three kills while Bauer and Ruediger each had two.
Ruediger posted three digs. Bauer had two and Engelbrecht, Overschmidt and Gerlemann each had one.
Bauer posted all 18 assists. Gerlemann and Meyer served aces. Engelbrecht had a solo block.
In the final pool match, Engelbrecht knocked down 11 kills while Ruediger added eight and Gerlemann had six. Bauer added two kills.
Ruediger posted nine digs. Lydia Pataky posted seven while Gerlemann had four. Overschmidt, Bauer and Munsinger each had three digs and Engelbrecht and Meyer each added two.
Bauer posted 24 assists and Ruediger and Munsinger each added one.
Engelbrecht served three aces while Bauer had one.
Gerlemann and Engelbrecht each had two solo blocks.