PHOTO: Traci Plummer of the Panthers goes high for a hit during the Lisbon Tournament Sept. 21. (Photo by Pete Temple)
By Pete Temple, Express Sports Editor
It has been a season of trying to turn the corner for the Monticello High School volleyball team, and the Panthers are getting closer.
MHS put its skills to the test against a couple of ranked opponents while competing in a dual meet at Camanche (ranked 13th in Class 3A) and in the Lisbon tournament, which featured the host school, which is ranked ninth in 1A.
“We are still learning how to win, and in order to continue to do that, we have to be confident every time we step on the floor,” Monticello coach Lori Lammers said.
Overall, the Panthers (0-3, 2-10) came out with one win in four matches.
Monticello traveled to Camanche Sept. 19, and lost in three sets, by scores of 15-25, 19-25, 18-25.
“We were extremely competitive against state-ranked Camanche,” Lammers said. “It was nice to have Traci Plummer back from injury for the first time this season, which gives us added size at the net.
“We passed well and did a great job in serve receive. The girls put themselves in a position to win late in set two and three, and that is something we hadn’t done before the Camanche match.”
Monticello had 21 kills in that match, led by Rachel Gadient with eight and Sonya Sperfslage with five. Sonya McCormick had nine of the team’s 35 digs. Mara Mescher and Sydney Owen had six apiece, while Taylor McDonough and Allison Ries had five each. McDonough had 14 assists. Ries served 9-for-9 with two aces.
The Panthers opened the Lisbon tournament with a tough loss to Calamus-Wheatland. Monticello led in both games, but fell 18-21, 18-21.
“We struggled with protecting the lead late in the match,” Lammers said. “It was the little things that made the difference. We lost the match not because we were beaten by a better team, but because we played like a team scared to win.”
Owen had four kills and Gadient had three.
Monticello picked up a win in a three-set match against Anamosa, losing 18-21 but then winning 21-14, 15-11.
“We started out extremely sluggish,” Lammers said. “Our passing was flat, and we were slow to transition into defense.
“Sets two and three were a complete 180 from the first. We did a much better job taking care of the ball. The girls came out with a lot of passion and competed.”
McDonough had 17 assists in that match, as Gadient had 12 kills. Sperfslage served 18-for-20 with five aces.
Against Lisbon, Monticello fell 11-21, 12-21. Ries had nine digs and cDonough made seven assists against the Lions.
“Lisbon is another state-ranked team,” the coach said. “Their hitters were a lot stronger than we were, which made them tough to defend at times.
“This group has a ton of raw talent, and we are still learning how to put all of the talents together to be competitive and confident night in and night out.”
Monticello will host a make-up match against Bellevue Thursday, Sept. 26, and then host the Monticelllo Tournament on Saturday, Sept. 28.