By Pete Temple, Express Sports Editor
The improvement shown by the Monticello High School volleyball team this season was demonstrated at the Tri-Rivers Conference tournament Saturday, Oct. 13 at Starmont.
The Panthers went 2-2 in a difficult pool, and nearly knocked off eventual tournament runner-up Starmont.
“I was very pleased with our performance all day on Saturday,” Monticello coach Nicolette Wennekamp said. “We are playing the best we have all season.”
Monticello’s wins came against Springville, 21-17, 21-19; and Central City, 21-9, 21-14. In the Springville match, Allison Kraus had eight kills, and Erin Hosch had 14 assists and five digs. Emma Lubben had an outstanding serving effort in the Central City match, going 17-for-17 with six aces. Nicole Monck had eight kills in that one.
Overall, the Panthers had a tough draw that included the two eventual finalists, champion Edgewood-Colesburg and runner-up Starmont.
Monticello came closest to beating Starmont, which would have placed the Panthers second in their pool and allowed them to advance to the tournament semifinals. The Panthers lost that one 21-16, 12-21, 10-15.
“Starmont was a great match for us,” Wennekamp said. “We lost in three, but I was very happy with their performance. Our passing, hitting and confidence was outstanding.”
It was also a strong defensive match for the Panthers, who collected 38 digs, led by Sydney Owen with 12 and Lubben with 11. Traci Plummer and Monck each had a block. Hosch had 17 assists.
Against Ed-Co, the Panthers lost 18-21, 6-21. Hosch had nine assists and six digs.
“I’m pretty happy with the fact that our two losses for the day came against the two final teams,” Wennekamp said.
Regular season finale
Prior to the conference tournament, the Panthers closed their regular season with a three-set loss at Maquoketa Valley Oct. 9, by scores of 21-25, 21-25, 18-25.
Nicole Monck made 10 kills and served five aces in the match. Allison Kraus had six kills. Sydney Owen made nine digs, while Emma Lubben had six and Erin Hosch had five. Hosch led the team in assists with 21.
Serving 100 percent were Hosch, 11-for-11; and Kraus, 8-for-8. As a team, the Panthers served 90.2 percent.
Also, statistics from the Oct. 4 match at Alburnett that were unavailable for last week’s Express appear below.
Monticello will begin Class 3A, Region 6 play with a quarterfinal match Monday, Oct. 22 at Cascade. Match time is 7 p.m. The winner will face either Independence or Center Point-Urbana in an Oct. 25 semifinal match at Center Point.
PHOTO: Nicole Monck of Monticello (right) goes for a kill as Maquoketa Valley’s Nicole Kudrna (10) tries for a block Oct. 9 in Delhi. (Photo by Diane Temple)