PHOTO: Monticello’s Taylor McDonough sets up a teammate Oct. 17 at Tipton. (Photo by Pete Temple)
By Pete Temple, Express Sports Editor
Monticello put up a battle in all three sets, particularly the third one, but Tipton and senior hitter Jill Kofron held off the Panthers, winning 25-18, 25-15, 25-19 Thursday, Oct. 17 in Tipton.
It was a River Valley Conference crossover match, the first night of this event in the new conference. Because Monticello and Tipton finished in fourth place in their respective divisions, they played a single match against one another. The South Division teams served as host schools this time, and won every single match involving the two divisions.
“After a tough stretch in the schedule for the past 2 ½ weeks, I thought we played good volleyball against a tough Tipton squad,” Monticello coach Lori Lammers said.
Kofron finished with 13 kills for the host Tigers, making a kill to close out each of the three sets.
“We struggled early with defending Kofron, but once the kids got their hands on a couple of her attacks and slowed her down, they gained some much needed confidence against a great hitter,” Lammers said.
Monticello stuck with the Tigers for much of the first set, trailing just 9-8 before Tipton inched away to a seven-point win.
The Tigers jumped to a 15-7 lead in the second set, and led 23-15 before scoring the last two point.
“Our passing probably hurt us a little; we just couldn’t seem to get into system and put together runs,” Lammers said.
Monticello was much stronger in the third set, and led most of the way. The Panthers took a 9-5 lead on a block by Traci Plummer, and a block by Rachel Gadient gave Monticello a 16-11 edge.
Tipton stormed back, however, outscoring the Panthers 14-3 the rest of the way.
“The kids are starting to realize that just talking about wanting to win isn’t enough,” the coach said. “They know they have to start doing what it takes to win by doing what they’ve been taught: playing hard for every point and having fun.
“We went out and did those things and had the lead in set three, but just couldn’t put it away. We are still learning how to protect the lead and not take a rally off.”
Gadient led the team in kills with five. Sonya McCormick and Gadient had three blocks apiece. Mara Mescher led the team ni digs with 11, and Allison Ries had seven. Mescher also served 10-for-10, while Sonya Sperfslage and Ries were both 10-for-11. Taylor McDonough had seven assists.
“Sonya McCormick stepped up between sets two and three and really became a leader, the kind of leader we’ve been waiting for all season,” Lammers said.
Earlier, the Panthers played host to Cascade in an Oct. 10 match, and lost in three sets, 12-25, 13-25, 21-25. Gadient had seven kills, and McDonough had 12 assists. McCormick and Ries had eight digs apiece.
“We were extremely flat to start the match,” Lammers said. “We are still working on how to overcome and eliminate early mistakes in the match. We just didn’t compete in sets one and two.
“In set three, it was as if a completely different team took the floor. We came out, passed well, moved the ball around offensively and competed. It would have beennice to get a win for our seniors on Senior Night, but it just wasn’t in the cards for us.”