Like any fall sports team, Watertown-Mayer volleyball is facing the many challenges that come with playing prep sports during a pandemic.
But the Royals have one additional hurdle. Their main gym floor is under construction, meaning they had to adjust and make the auxiliary court their home floor this season.
Through seven matches, the Royals look hardly unfazed. They’re off to a perfect start to the season, including Thursday’s 19-25, 25-17, 25-13, 25-22 defeat of New London-Spicer at Watertown-Mayer High School.
When the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) ruled earlier this year that football and volleyball were being moved to the spring for a quasi fourth season, the administrators at Watertown-Mayer believed they had time to slowly begin the process of replacing the gym floor.
When Watertown-Mayer and New London-Spicer met on Tuesday, the Wildcats won the first set before dropping the next three in a loss. On Thursday, the teams met again and the script was repeated.
After Watertown-Mayer struggled with self-inflicted errors in the first set at home Thursday, the Royals recovered and cruised to a 19-25, 25-17, 25-13, 25-22 victory to stay unbeaten this season.
Watertown-Mayer (7-0, 7-0) struggled with attack and service errors in the first set while New London-Spicer (4-2, 4-2) took advantage of its opportunities. Sophomore middle blocker Ellary Peterson had a team-best three kills in the first set and finished with five kills in the match.
The Royals, ranked No. 4 in the Class 2A coaches’ poll, came back with vengeance following their sloppy play in the first set. The turnaround started with senior outside hitter Paige Thibault. A well-known commodity, Thibault was a major problem for the No. 9-2A Wildcats, finishing with a team-best 19 kills.
Thibault’s younger sister, Kate, was also in on the action. As a libero, she finished with 22 digs, five kills and an ace. Junior setter Natalie Ernhart stepped in for an injured Gabby Dulas and fed the ball well to her teammates, finishing with 42 set assists.
The biggest threat to Watertown-Mayer was Wildcats senior outsider hitter Aleah Zieske. She had the Royals on their heels throughout the match whether she was hitting or serving. She had 12 kills and four aces.
MN Volleyball Hub polls are for entertainment purposes only.