2016 marked a year of excellence for Waseca, but 2017 has started out bumpy
The Blue Jays are another team in search of correcting mistakes from the previous year’s Section 2AA tournament. Waseca was swept by Kenyon-Washington High School, ending their season without any year-end hardware. Their efforts to improve from last year have so far been successful; the Blue Jays have already exceeded their 2016 win total and sit right now with four less losses than the previous season and four matches to go.
Waseca’s improvement was not obvious at the start of the season. The Blue Jays opened up their season with two wins on the road at Pine Island then played as the home team in Windom against Worthington in the second match. Rochester Lourdes then lost to Waseca in the Blue Jays’ third match. It was only for a short time that Waseca was able to hold onto a winning record before a less-than-ideal showing at the Waterville-Elysian-Morristown Tourney.
Every team the Blue Jays faced in the tournament pool stopped Waseca from winning even one set in the entire event. The Blue Jays exited the WEM-hosted tournament with an overall record of 2-6 before returning to conference play in the following week. Fairmont saw to it that Waseca’s losing ways would not end against the Cardinals.
Fairmont would go on to defeat Waseca in four sets in the first of two meetings this season (16-25, 20-25, 25-20 and 25-17). The Blue Jays were not quite finished with the Cardinals yet and later get payback for keeping the Jays out of the win column.
A road game at St. James restored some of Waseca’s mojo, at least for a match. The Blue Jays locked in their first win in seven matches and just the third overall for Waseca. In four sets, the Saints could not withstand the pressure brought on by the Blue Jays and awarded Waseca with its first conference win of the year as well.
Back in familiar territory, the Blue Jays aren’t able to replicate what it took to beat St. James and lose the next three games of the four-game road trip to Blue Earth, Tri-City United and St. Peter. Two conference losses to Blue Earth and St. Peter put Waseca close to the point-of-no-return in the competition for best conference-finish.
Something clicked with Waseca’s team after the 3-1 loss to St. Peter on Sept. 19. The Blue Jays recovered from their most recent slump to win the last three games played up to this point in the season. In the process of slump-busting, Waseca washed out the conference losses to Fairmont and Blue Earth earlier this season by sweeping the Fairmont Cardinals in Fairmont then pulled off a gut-check victory against Blue Earth to bring their current win-streak to three, a complete reversal of the three-match drought after the victory over the St. James Saints.
Waseca is fortunate enough to end the regular season with two straight home games after the Blue Jays play at Triton Tuesday, Oct. 3 and then go to New Ulm on Thursday, Oct. 5 to attempt a complete season sweep of the Eagles. St. Peter defeated Waseca in four sets on Sept. 19, which is coincidentally the Blue Jays’ last loss they’ve recorded. Waseca will get its chance to even the season series up at 1-1 on Oct. 9 at Waseca. The team’s last match on the schedule is another rematch; St. James will attempt to redeem itself just as Waseca has done against Fairmont and Blue Earth with their last two wins.
The two district games will be crucial for the Blue Jays as they search for success in the postseason. Their chances at a good seed diminished with the early losing streak but Waseca put itself in the best position possible for them to succeed this late into the season.