By Rob Potter
FALLSBURG October 23, 2001 The Monticello Lady Panthers clinched the OCIAA National Conference volleyball title Friday afternoon with a three-game win over host Fallsburg.
The Lady Panthers also kept their perfect record intact with the 30-20, 30-18, 31-29 win over the Lady Comets. Monticellos record is now 15-0 overall and 15-0 in OCIAA National Conference play. Fallsburg dropped to 11-5 overall and 10-5 in OCIAA National Conference matches.
But the Lady Comets did their best to defend their home court, especially in the third game. Down 2-0, Fallsburg grabbed a quick 3-0 lead and held the advantage for much of the game.
After a kill by Lady Panther Deidre Smith tied the game at 7-7, the Lady Comets built their lead again. The biggest advantage came when a Monticello player hit the ball out-of-bounds with Fallsburgs Rachel Feller serving, which gave the Lady Comets a 17-12 advantage.
But Monticello calmly closed the gap, tying the score at 24-24 and, later, 28-28.
With the score knotted at 29-29, Monticellos Kim Donohue served two aces to win the match.
It was Donohues second match back after sitting out a few matches due to an injured finger. She played sparingly in Monticellos previous match, a win over James I. ONeill two days earlier.
She was out a good three weeks, Monticello coach Karen Atack said. She played pretty well today, but shes not back at the level both she and I know she can be.
For the match, Donohue had eight digs, six kills, seven assists and three service aces.
While happy with the conference crown, Atack was also looking ahead to the upcoming sectional tournament.
It wasnt pretty today, she said of her teams performance. We need to take it up a notch for sectionals.
Atack also praised the Lady Comets.
Give Fallsburg credit, they played well, she said.
Pacing the Lady Panthers were Kristin Fried (eight points, eight digs and three kills), Crystal Forget (nine points, five aces, four assists and two kills), Katy Schlichtman (10 points, four aces, three digs and three kills) and Smith (10 kills, four assists).
Fallsburg coach Dan Gallo found some positives in the match as well.
I thought we did well, especially in that last game, Gallo said. We played Monticello much better today than we did the first time around.
Gallo noted that being at home helped his teams performance against the Lady Panthers. He also pointed out the play of a few Lady Comets.
Jenna Hartman played an outstanding game, Gallo said. She blocked well, she hit well and she passed well. Maria Kajankova and Crystal Ryder also had good overall games.
Hartmann finished the match with eight digs, six kills, four blocks and four points. Kajankova had seven points and seven digs, while Ryder recorded seven points, five digs and four assists.
Like Atack, Gallo is looking forward to sectional play. He is pleased with the way has team has played to qualify for the sectionals, especially since the Fallsburg program has not fared too well in terms of wins and losses over the past few years.
These girls have turned it around, Gallo said of the 2001 team. And this team has the talent to do very well in the Class D tournament, if not win the whole thing.