By Frank Rizzo
MONTICELLO September 26, 2006 Monticello, the defending OCIAA Division II volleyball co-champion, hopes to be in the race for the league title again.
The Lady Panthers, 15-1 in league play a year ago, suffered their first loss of the young season already. It happened in their opening match against Port Jervis on September 7.
“They played tremendous volleyball,” Monticello coach Karen Atack said of the Red Raiders. ‘That was a sectional-caliber match. Port Jervis outplayed us… [but] we didn’t play poorly.”
Port Jervis swept by scores of 25-20, 25-21 and 25-15.
Of Division II this season Atack said, “I think the league’s up for grabs. I believe Cornwall’s the favorite, but I’ve always said that on any given day anybody [can win]. You can’t count Tuxedo out, especially when playing down there. Everybody hates playing in that gym.”
Atack referred to netting in the ceiling at Tuxedo which gives visiting teams fits.
Graduation took five players from the Monties’ 2005 roster list, three of then starters.
Top returners include Section IX all-star Polly Palhano, a junior, and Iris Robinson, a league all-star two seasons ago as a sophomore. Juniors Emily Drobysh and Kearyra Sanders were also cited by Atack.
Analyzing the team’s play this year Atack noted that “we give the other team too many free balls that they can set up. We were getting very good percentages with serving, but they were safe [ones], so teams can return them.
“You want consistency [in serving] but you also have to put something on the ball,” she added.
“The hustling, the effort is there,” Atack said of this year’s squad, who is aware of the winning tradition the Monties have made sectionals for at least 15 straight years, with numerous league and several sectional crowns to their credit.
“This is a great group of kids,” she praised. “Don’t count us out. Our goals are always to win the league and the section.”