PHOTO: Sonya Sperfslage of Monticello goes for a kill against Cascade Sept. 7 in the Midland Tournament. (Photo by Pete Temple)
By Pete Temple, Express Sports Editor
Some growing pains are to be expected with a new head coach and a team with little varsity experience entering the season.
Monticello coach Lori Lammers said she believes the growing will make the early pains worth it.
The Panthers (0-6) started the season by losing three straight sets against North Cedar Thursday, Sept. 5, falling 16-25, 20-25, 15-25.
“We started the match out with a lot of nerves, which was to be expected with our first match,” Monticello coach Lori Lammers said. “North Cedar had four matches under its belt, and we were playing our first games of the season.
“The kids settled down by game two and made progress from beginning to end.”
Highlights included five kills apiece from Sonya McCormick and Sonya Sperfslage. Rachel Gadient and McCormick had four blocks apiece, Sydney Owen made eight digs, and setter Taylor McDonough had three assists.
Monticello then lost to five opponents in the annual Midland Tournament Sept. 7 in Wyoming, playing in a six-team, round robin format.
“Our record is definitely not indicative of the kind of volleyball the girls played,” Lammers said. “We were much improved from Thursday night in our first match of the day.”
Springville and Cascade both swept the Panthers in two sets, although the second set against Cascade was a 19-21 loss.
Monticello then took both Bellevue Marquette and Midland to a third game before falling, and the Panthers lost the final match of the day to Lisbon in two sets.
Gadient had 14 kills, and while McCormick and Sperfslage each had 12 for the day. Owen had 14 digs. McDonough made 52 assists over the five matches.
“The exciting part of the day was the growth each player made. Taylor McDonough is really starting to settle into her role as the starting setter. By our last match she was more comfortable with running our offense and telling her hitters what to run.
“She was a lot more confident with running a quicker offense with our middles, Rachel Gadient, Sonya McCormick and Sydney Owen, by the end of the day.
“Allison Ries has really stepped up as libero and provided great defensive leadership in the back row for a very young squad.
“The kids played hard for every point on Saturday, regardless of what the scoreboard said.”
The Panthers have just one match scheduled this week, the home opener against Iowa City Regina Sept. 12. A match against Bellevue Sept. 10 was supposed to be the home opener, but it was moved to Sept. 26 to accommodate the Rachel’s Challenge assembly.