Making their points: Monticello Heat teams work on developing skills, fundamentals

Reagan Schneiter (left) of the Monticello 14-and-under team hits the ball over the net during a tournament in January, with teammate Olivia Zimmerman backing up the play. (Photo by Pete Temple)

The grade 7-8 Monticello USA volleyball team, first row from left: coach Sophie Hodge, Abigail Sharlow, Grace Cooksley, Lake Schnoor, Kendra Davis and coach Leah Holub. Second Row: Tishelle Countryman, Kiara Rigby, Michelle Stoll, Brenna Wilson and Codie Luse. Not pictured are Kyrie Zimmerman, Dori Paddock and Becky Lange. (Photo submitted)

The Monticello Heat 14-and-under volleyball team, first row from left: Reagan Schneiter, Brea Stahlberg, Olivia Zimmerman and Nora Sperfslage. Second row: Jae Aitchison, Aleasha Schilling, Courtney Thies, Madison Butterworth and Marisa Grant. Not pictured are Mia Jaeger, Serena Brokaw, head coach Stacie Breitbach and assistant coach Maddie Lambert. (Photo submitted)
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     The USA Volleyball season is winding down for the Monticello Heat teams, and coaches of the program are excited about the skills the players are developing and the improvements they’ve made.

     The program begins in December with practices, and tournaments start in January, and typically run though April 1.

     Alecia Klein and Nicole Monck coached the 17-and-under team, Stacie Breitbach and Maddie Lambert coached the 14-and-under team, Kim McQuillen coached the 13-and-under team, and Jenna Peters and Jess Hansen coached the 12-and-under team. Kylie McDonell coached a traveling program that involved teams in grades 4-8.

     The 12-and-under team has the most success; winning four tournaments and finishing second in one.

     “The girls improved a tremendous amount throughout the season,” Peters said. “They set the ball up and finished the play with a hit every chance that they got, which is not something you see as frequently at this age level.

     “These girls did a phenomenal job at playing their best when it counted.”

     The 14-and-under team had a pair of third place finishes in its tournaments.

     “Our goal is always to improve the individual skills of each player by providing as many touches in practice as we can,” Breitbach said. “We continue to work on teaching them offensive and defensive strategies so they will be ready for their next level in school.

     “On my team they worked on perimeter defense, which was a new concept, and quickening up the offense. Communication is so important, so we worked to improve that as well.”

     For the 17-and-under team, the season was all about improving.

     “This year we were growing as a team and learning to work as one,” Monck said. “We were also learning to talk more and come together as a team. The girls were working on their passing accuracy, getting a full approach to make strong hits, and getting up and closing blocks.

     “It’s always fun to work with the girls and see them have it finally click.”

     McDonell said the youngest players are working on the basics.

     “For some players, this is their first year, so we are working on basics of serving and passing,” McDonell said. “In fourth through sixth grade we are still working on getting three hits per side, and when we do the whole crowd gets excited.”

     Overall, the program plans to continue with its goal of developing skilled players at all age levels.

     “We hope that we can provide players with the skills they need to be more successful during school ball,” Breitbach said. “Games are fun, but practice is where we see most of our growth. We also want any player who wants to work in the off-season to get better, to have that opportunity.”



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