Mattke returns in close match against St. Mary’s

The Pipers fall to a 1-2 conference record after losses to St. Mary’s and Concordia.

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Paul Patane

Pipers celebrating a big point before losing to St. Mary's, 1-3 on Wednesday, Sep. 23.

Jake Kjos, Reporter

Hamline volleyball played a strong match against St. Mary’s on Sep. 23 but ended up on the wrong end of the score sheet in a 1-3 loss.

Junior middle blocker Beth Goodman scored the first three points for Hamline in the first set, and the rest of the team stepped up with fellow juniors Amelia Jensen, a setter, and hitter Jena Meyer using their awareness to take advantage of holes in St. Mary’s defense.

Back and forth play characterized the entire match as multiple lead changes occurred throughout. Down 15-18 in the first set, Hamline Coach Becky Egan called a timeout that settled the Pipers down.

Senior hitter Michelle Mattke, a major contributor to last year’s team who returned from injury to play for the first time in almost four weeks, described what the team talks about in the huddle.

“Our timeouts consist mostly of the strategy components of the game. We discuss what our opponent is doing and how they are touching our weaknesses,” Mattke said.

After letting long serves go past, the team tied it 21-21 before Jensen, who the offense runs the majority of their sets through, faked out the unexpecting Cardinals with a nicely placed shot right in the middle of the court to put the Pipers ahead 23-22.

Later, Goodman used her height advantage to deliver a strong strike and put the Pipers up 25-24. St. Mary’s came back to win the set 25-27 and take back the momentum.

More of the same close play came in the second set with ties of 8-8 and 12-12. After some well-timed sets by St. Mary’s helped them pull away, a powerful hit by junior hitter Julia Zolnosky evened the score at 20-20.

The rest of the set was all Zolnosky as she showed her versatility with a soft tip for another score. St. Mary’s seemed rattled by Zolnosky’s effort and committed two miscues before she leapt for a point scoring block.

Zolnosky finished off the set with a crosscourt winner between two Cardinals that hit right inside the line to even the match at 1-1.

In the third set Jensen followed up with a mix of sets and fakes to keep the defense guessing. Once it came her turn to serve the team scored four points in a row before another 15-18 deficit forced coach Egan to call a timeout.

Mattke talked about the importance of having timeouts in tough matchups like this.

“We talk about what we can do differently on our side of the net so we can string points together and change the momentum of the game.”

This timeout helped the Pipers focus again and start to comeback to make the third set another close one.

After pushing the score to being down just one point at 23-24, St. Mary’s prevailed and came away with a pivotal match lead that put the Pipers down 1-2.

The fourth and final set saw the return of Mattke, who was excited to be back.

“It’s true what they say, you never really know how much you love something until it’s gone. It’s just fun being back on the court and being interactive again,” Mattke said.

Jensen was also encouraged by Mattke’s return.

“It will add to the depth that we haven’t had to this point,” Jensen said.

Despite the loss, the team was positive about the way they played.

“Out of my four years of playing with Hamline that is the best we ever have played against St. Mary’s,” Mattke said. “To be able to hang that closely and even take sets away really says a lot about what Hamline volleyball is capable of.”

Hamline played Concordia Sep. 26 and lost 0-3. Hamline’s loss advances the Cobbers to 3-0 in MIAC play and moves the Pipers down to 1-2.

Now 7-7 overall, the Pipers will try to improve their standing against St. Thomas, who is also 1-2 in conference play.