Gothenburg volleyball coach Bryson Mahlberg called a timeout about midway through the opening game of his team’s matchup with St. Pat’s.
It was a move to help his players regain some composure after he watched the Swedes make a series of mental and physical errors that gave the Irish the lead and momentum early in the match.
“I think we were just all over the place,” Mahlberg said. “We weren’t passing well and we weren’t hitting well and that just translates.
“I think in the 15 (points that St. Pat’s had), we committed about eight errors,” Mahlberg said. “But I was happy with how we responded (after the time out) and I thought we played cleaner and more focused over the next two sets.”
The Swedes looked different after the break and rallied to take 14 of the final 17 points of the opening game and carried that confidence on through the rest of the matchup.
Bella Rickertsen had 11 kills and Clara Evert and Aubrey O’Hare both added 10 kills as the Swedes improved to 6-2 with a sweep of St. Pat’s 25-18, 25-14, 25-11.
O’Hare and Emily Cornwell had 19 and 18 assists, respectively, and Cornwell also had 12 digs. Evert had a team-high 13 digs.
“They really beat us in the passing game tonight,” St. Pat’s coach Maddy Krebs said. “The passing and the defense, they just controlled everything about it.”
Jenna Kimberling had 20 digs to lead the Irish (7-5). Jayla Fleck had six assists and Mae Siegel and Rachel Heiss both had three kills.
Bella Arensdorf had a team-high five block assists.
The Swedes scored the first four points in the second game and never trailed, and fell behind 7-4 early in the third game before winning 15 of the next 17 points to take control and close out the match.
“Our mental game is what needs more consistency,” Krebs said. “There needs to be the understanding that you can switch the momentum in volleyball very quickly and we just need to work on fighting back after being down a few points.”
The Swedes don’t have a player taller than 5 feet, 10 inches on the roster. Rickertson and Cornwell are both 5-4 and O’Hare is 5-9.
“We know we aren’t going to be the tallest team but we have some girls who can elevate and we have girls with some big arms,” Mahlberg said. “I think if we can get them the ball and they can work around some blocks, they can do some damage like they did tonight.”
The Swedes front line gave the Irish trouble throughout the match.
“Our block struggled against them tonight,” Krebs said. “We have had a good block all season but we didn’t mesh tonight. They found the holes in our defense. They have some really good hitters and they are young and going to be tough competition over the next few years.”
Both teams feature a youthful lineup.
The Swedes have just four seniors on their team and start two freshman. Heiss was the only player honored on St. Pat’s Senior Night and the Knights had one rotation where four sophomores were on the court at the same time.
“We are young but we are improving (each week),” Krebs said. “There are things (the players) are learning every single game and by the end of the season, we put those together, we are going to be fine.”
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