Coming off a 2016 campaign in which the Mankato West Scarlets volleyball team went 16-7, the team brings quite a bit of experience back and is already showing they are a force to be reckoned with in the 2017 season. Not even a new coach at the helm this season can distract this team as they are off to a hot start.
The Scarlets are right in the thick of the standings as the team has started out with a record of 7-2. This is an impressive accomplishment considering they have a new coach and a couple new starters in the lineup. Let’s get up to speed on a few key games from the Scarlets season thus far, including a second-place finish at their own tournament on the weekend of September 16.
Mankato West began its quest for a tournament championship against Austin. Austin took game number one (23-25), but the Scarlets battled back to win the next two (25-23/15-3).
The Scarlets’ quarterfinal matchup was against United South Central. West had no problems here, defeating them soundly by scores of 25-7 and 25-14. Sibley East was also no match for Mankato West in the semifinals, losing with scores of 25-19 and 25-18.
This brings us to the championship, where the Crusaders from Mayer Lutheran was awaiting the Scarlets. Mayer Lutheran is the defending Class A champion with a lot of returners from that team and were chomping at the bit to take down the bigger schools.
Mankato West dug themselves into a hole in game one. The Crusaders middle hitter took control early, setting the tone with a pair of kills to move the score to 6-1. The Scarlets battled back however, as junior hitter Kennedy Geller came through with a couple of ace hits to bring the deficit to 11-8. That was as close as West would bring the game as Mayer Lutheran started spiking the ball in places the Scarlets could not get to. The Crusaders cruised to an 8-0 run to make game one 19-8 going down the stretch.
Mayer Lutheran eventually closed out Mankato West in game one by the score of 25-13.
The Scarlets looked composed in the beginning of game two, getting things started with a couple nice kills to take the lead 5-3. In fact, the game was tied at nine until the Crusaders took over and went on an 8-1 run that made the score 18-10. West took a couple more points back before Mayer Lutheran put the Scarlets away for good, winning the game 25-17 to take the match and the championship.
Mankato West is clearly getting better as the year is going on. Now that they are used to their rotation, new players and new coaching style, this team will be a tough out when postseason play begins.
The Scarlets travel to Rochester Mayo and welcome Northfield to town later this week.