By Pete Temple, Express Sports Editor
The good news was that the Monticello High School volleyball team came out of last week on the plus side of .500 in Tri-Rivers Conference play.
The Panthers split a pair of TRC matches, losing in four sets at Starmont Sept. 18, and sweeping North-Linn Sept. 20, to post a 2-1 conference record.
News that wasn’t as good for the red and black came from the Monticello Invitational Sept. 22, where the Panthers (4-11) lost three straight matches, two sets apiece.
Head coach Nicolette Wennekamp wasn’t particularly discouraged, however, considering the level of competition at the tournament. All three of Monticello’s opponents were ranked in their respective classes going into the event.
“We played a really tough schedule on Saturday,” Wennekamp said. “It’s nice to play some competitive teams. The team just needs to learn how to be intense and play all 25 points.”
The Panthers opened pool with a 17-21, 15-21 loss to Davenport Assumption, a match in which Allison Kraus had six kills and Erin Hosch made 10 assists. Assumption is rated second in Class 3A.
Against West Delaware (ranked sixth in 4A), the Panthers fell 14-21, 9-21.
”We played a really good first set against West Delaware,” Wennekamp said. “We lost, but it was a good loss.”
Kraus had six kills in that one, while Emma Lubben and Sydney Owen had seven digs apiece.
The final match was against Bellevue Marquette, ranked eighth in Class 1A. The Panthers lost that one 11-21, 12-21. Nicole Monck had four kills. Kraus had seven digs.
For the tournament, the Panthers had 29 kills, and Hosch made 23 assists.
“Our offense is a strength, and we need to continue working on the accuracy of our passes so we can utilize that strength,” Wennekamp said.
Earlier, the Panthers traveled to the Lisbon tournament Sept. 15, and lost three matches in pool play. They were swept by Clear Creek-Amana and West Branch, and then went to a third set against Hudson before falling 21-6, 16-21, 11-15.
Hosch had 40 total assists in that tournament. Monck had 14 kills, and Kraus had 13. Owen totaled 19 digs.
At Starmont Sept. 18, the Panthers suffered their first conference loss of the season, falling in four sets. Scores (Monticello first) were 18-25, 15-25, 27-25, 11-25. Monck had 14 kills, Kraus had 11 kills and 13 digs. Lubben also had 13 digs, and Traci Plummer had 11. Hosch made 29 assists.
The Panthers got back on the winning track Sept. 20 at North-Linn, sweeping the Lynx 25-20, 25-18, 25-18.
“North-Linn was a good win, and we played really strong to take them in three games,” Wennekamp said. “We did a great job of staying on offense.”
Hosch made 30 assists in that match. Monck had 12 kills, and Kraus had 10. The team had 34 total digs, led by Plummer with nine, Owen and Kraus with eight apiece. Monck also had four aces, and Plummer had three.
PHOTO: Andrea Bone blocks a North-Linn hit for a Panther point Sept. 20 in Troy Mills. (Photo by Pete Temple)