(Co-) Champs! Panthers top Camanche to earn share of division title

Monticello players walk over to celebrate with fans after beating Camanche Oct. 5. From left are Caitlyn Cruise, Maddie Lambert, Jaelynn Kraus, Shalay Bronemann, Macy McDonough, Rileigh Lambert and Beka Prull. (Photos by Pete Temple)

The Monticello volleyball team clinched a share of the River Valley Conference, North Division championship with a win over Camanche Oct. 5. Team members, first row from left: Caitlyn Cruise, Savanah Kremer, Shalay Bronemann, Rileigh Lambert, Maddie Lambert and Jordan Kuper. Second row: head coach Stacie Breitbach, Corinne Gadient, Beka Prull, Maria Recker, Lauren Ries, Jaelynn Kraus, Macy McDonough, manager Mya Boffeli and assistant coach Kylie McDonell.

Lauren Ries tips the ball over the net for Monticello in the Camanche match.

Corinne Gadient of the Panthers receives a serve. Looking on is Savanah Kremer.
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     On Sept. 5, the Monticello High School volleyball team went to a fifth set against North Cedar, and lost a heartbreaking 13-15 decision.

     After that, the Panthers were determined to never let that happen again.

     “We banked off that,” senior Maddie Lambert said.

     Which is part of the reason Monticello scored a dramatic, five-set home victory over Camanche Thursday, Oct. 5, earning a share of the River Valley Conference, North Division title.

     “I think the difference is the girls played with confidence in each other and themselves,” Monticello coach Stacie Breitbach said. “The team set the goal to win conference this year, and we have just continued to evolve.”

     Monticello has won conference tournaments in the past – the most recent was in 2005 – but this was believed to be the first regular season volleyball crown of any kind in school history.

     Camanche came into the match, on the final night of the regular season, 4-0 in division play, while Monticello and North Cedar were both 3-1. Because Monticello won, and North Cedar beat Bellevue the same night, the three teams ended in a tie for the title with 4-1 records.

     “It’s amazing,” senior Lauren Ries said after the match. “I think we all just play for moments like this.”

     Against Camanche, the Panthers alternated sets, winning the first one 25-18. That set included a rally in which Caitlyn Cruise made a pair of one-armed digs on back-to-back spike attempts to keep the play alive, and Monticello wound up winning a key point to take a 23-17 lead.

     Monticello lost the second set 21-25, but won the third 25-20, with consecutive kills by Maddie Lambert, Jaelynn Kraus and Jordan Kuper closing it out.

     The Panthers held leads of 20-17 and 23-21 in the fourth set, but the Indians came back, winning five of the final six points as Monticello lost 24-26. That sent the match to a fifth set, up to 15.

     This time, Monticello was ready.

     “The girls came into the huddle and were like, ‘We got this,’ ” Monticello coach Stacie Breitbach said.

     “The drills we’ve been doing have been preparing us for a fifth set,” senior Rileigh Lambert said.

     Senior Maddie Lambert agreed: “We just knew that in that fifth set we had to come out strong, and that’s what we did.”

     Monticello jumped to a 7-4 lead, and stayed ahead the rest of the way. Camanche got to within a point twice, but three straight points opened the lead to 11-7. Kuper, who had kills on three of the Panthers’ final four points, and 22 for the night, had an emphatic kill on the final point to secure a 15-9 win and send her and her teammates into a wild celebration.

     “It feels great,” senior Savanah Kremer said. “We just finally came through and won.”

     Rileigh Lambert agreed: “We’ve been playing as a team so well, and we’re peaking right now.”

     Maddie Lambert had 45 assists for the match, and served 26-for-26.

     “We always stayed together, and we never gave up on each other,” she said.

     Ries, who took a spike off the face on the second-to-last point but finished the match, had 17 kills and a team-high 24 digs. Kremer had 21 digs.

     “The student section and our fans were awesome,” Breitbach said. “The girls played their hearts out, and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

Bellevue match

     The chance for the title wouldn’t have happened if not for a 3-1 home win over Bellevue Oct. 3, by scores of 25-9, 25-22, 21-25, 25-13.

     “That was a confidence boost for sure,” Breitbach said. “It put us in a place to go for the conference title, and the kids capitalized on the opportunity.”

     Kuper had 25 kills and Ries had 19, as Maddie Lambert recorded 44 assists, and served 16-for-16. Ries had 13 digs, Kremer had 11 and Kuper had nine.

     “We were aggressive and started the night determined,” the coach said. “We knew the tendencies of their key players, and were able to set up our defense to slow them down.”


     The Panthers were scheduled to play in the pool round of the RVC Tournament Tuesday, Oct. 10 at home. There were three teams in the Panthers’ pool – Durant and Wilton were the others – and the top two advance to bracket play Thursday, Oct. 12, likely at Camanche.

     Also, pairings for regional play were announced, and the Panthers will open at Dyersville Beckman on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m.


Oct. 3

Monticello 3, Bellevue 1

MONTICELLO                            Kl     Bl    Dg   Ac

Caitlyn Cruise                               0      0      1      0

Corinne Gadient                           3      5      6      0

Jaelynn Kraus                               3      1      1      0

Savanah Kremer                          0      0     11      2

Jordan Kuper                              25      4      9      4

Maddie Lambert                           5      2      4      0

Rileigh Lambert                            1      0      0      0

Macy McDonough                        0      0      6      0

Lauren Ries                                19      0    13      0

Shalay Bronemann                      0      0      1      0

Maria Recker                               0      0      0      0

Totals                                         56    12    57     7

Assists – M. Lambert 44, McDonough 2,

Kremer 1, Kuper 1, Ries 1.

Serving leaders – M. Lambert 16-16,

Kremer 19-20.

Set scores

Bellevue                         9    22   25   13 

Monticello                     25    25   21   25


Oct. 5

Monticello 3, Camanche 2

MONTICELLO                            Kl     Bl  Dg    Ac

Caitlyn Cruise                               0      0   11      2

Corinne Gadient                           3      5      2      2

Jaelynn Kraus                               8      1      4      0

Savanah Kremer                          0       0    21     0

Jordan Kuper                               22     7    12      1

Maddie Lambert                            7      3    13      0

Rileigh Lambert                             4      1      0      0

Macy McDonough                         0      0      4      0

Lauren Ries                                 17      1    24     0

Totals                                          61    18    91     5

Assists – M. Lambert 45, Kremer 4, Kuper 4,

Ries 2, R. Lambert 1, McDonough 1.

Serving leaders – M. Lambert 26-26,

Gadient 15-15, Cruise 25-26.

Set scores

Camanche                    18   25   20   26     9 

Monticello                     25   21   25   24   15




Subscriber Login