The St. Ansgar Saints volleyball team has had a very successful season this year. The team had their best conference finish since the TIC formed, finishing in 2nd place with a 7-1 record against TIC opponents and finishing the regular season with a 11-11 record.
After the regular season wrapped up, the Saints were matched with Central Springs in the first round of the Class 2A Region 6 tournament. St. Ansgar had a tough test on their hands, but the Saints prevailed in a 3-2 win, advancing to the next round where they would take on a tough Lake Mills team.
On Monday night, the Saints traveled to Lake Mills to try and upset the Bulldogs on their home court. The first set was a good test for the Saints to start the night. Lake Mills was able to go up 1-0 after winning 25-16.
The second set was one of St. Ansgar’s best of the season. The teams went back and forth in an exciting postseason tempo. The Saints battled, but were unable to come out with the second set win, falling 33-31.
The final set was similar to the first. St. Ansgar gave their all, but fell just short as they fell 25-15 as their season ended in Lake Mills.
“Our goal coming in was to compete,” said Head Coach Tyler Johnson. “We knew it would be more of a challenge playing them on their home floor, but I felt like our girls stepped up to the challenge well. We were tied at 14-14 in the first when they had a quick little run, and then we played evenly the rest of the first. The second game just got a little wild, and the whole thing was point for point. It may have been the best overall game we have played all year (which is good, obviously, because you are hoping to put in your best effort at the end of the season), as kids showed toughness to keep battling and making plays. I don’t remember being involved in a game like that in my coaching career, and both sides had some game point opportunities to finish, but both teams battled out of them, and in the end we lost 31-33. We came out a little slower in the 3rd with losing some steam from game 2. I felt like we still fought, but one could just sense that the momentum had been dragged out of us a bit, and it showed a little in our ball control.”
During their final regular season match, the Saints saw Tanyon Schutjer reach the school record in career assists in the rally scoring era. Schutjer added to that on Monday night in Lake Mills, reaching the 1,000 career assist milestone!
“Tanyon was about 12 assists away going into the night, and she hit the 1,000 mark right at the beginning of the second game,” said coach Johnson. “She and our middles may have had the best match of the year as far as connecting on our quick sets. Tanyon should be proud of her accomplishments as 1,000 assists in a career is not a common feat, and she has worked hard and put a lot of time in to reach that number. I hope the rest of the team helps share in her pride as assists are a shared statistic that can’t be compiled without the others doing their part as well.”
With the final game of the season always brings the dreaded loss of the group of senior players. The group of seniors of Hannah Groth, Samantha Hemann, Gabby Finberg, Jadyn Anderson, Tanyon Schutjer and Sophie Wold have set a great example for the rest of the their teammates and the next generation of volleyball players.
“This group was a fun one, and I feel blessed to have gotten to coach them,” said Johnson. “They deserve recognition for their time and efforts to improve our program. We don’t compete like we did last night without this group of seniors making the commitment to improve and put a lot of offseason time in. They have left big shoes to fill for future groups to keep pushing towards improving the program. This group really bought in to many of the things we are trying to do to keep improving as a program, and as a testament to that, they were able to reach their goal of finishing second in the TIC, which is our best finish since we have been in this conference (7-1). What I will miss the most about them is the everyday interactions at practice, their ability to enjoy and make volleyball fun (and make us laugh), and the positive overall chemistry that all of them were able to provide for us throughout the whole season, even in matches that had many ups and down.”
The Saints have made great strides since last season. A second place finish in the TIC is a great accomplishment and members of this year’s volleyball team will be able to look back for years to come and remember the improvements that they were responsible for on getting the volleyball program back on the right track. Good work, Saints!