By Frank Rizzo
MONTICELLO October 10, 2006 This season, the title will not be shared.
Monticello and Cornwall, co-champions a year ago in the oCIAA Division II volleyball league (with 15-1 records) met for the second time this campaign Friday in Monticello.
And for the second time, the Lady Green Dragons came out on top, taking the best-of-five match 3-1. The scores were 25-22, 25-17, 20-25 and 25-16.
“This was the match we won last year [to enable the co-championship],” noted Monticello coach Karen Atack.
Unfortunately for the Lady Panthers, Port Jervis had already changed the script with a win over Monticello in the season opener on September 10.
And though Monticello got its revenge against the visiting Red Raiders two nights before, it made for a difficult task to catch up to Cornwall, the defending Section IX Class A champion with all its starters back from a year ago.
The Lady Panthers (73) trail both Cornwall (90) and Port Jervis (92) in the league standings as of Friday, October 6.
In the opening game on Friday, Cornwall held leads of six points on two occasions but the Panthers roared back. Samantha Kelly of Cornwall served into the net to make the score 20-16 and give the serve to Monti junior Kearya Sanders. She proceeded to served five straight points to give Monticello its last lead, 21-20.
The Green Dragons answered with three straight before Monticello closed the gap to 23-22 but could not get closer.
The Green Dragons quickly built up a 7-1 lead in game two and matched the six-point edge on six more occasions, eventually stretching it to nine before closing out the 25-17 victory.
The hosts trailed only twice in game three, leading by as many as six and holding back a challenge which saw the visitors close within 23-20. Katie Crawford served the final point for the Panthers.
“We were a bit flat that third game,” admitted Cornwall coach Jeff Moulton. “We have to talk it up constantly, communicate, get pumped up for every point.”
The Monties had momentum early in the fourth game, running off seven straight to take a 10-7 lead.
But Cornwall responded with a 12-2 run to go up 19-12 and were never threatened as they clinched the match.
After noting that his team was stretched to five games by the visiting Panthers on September 28, Moulton said he made some defensive changes and adjustments in response for Friday’s tilt.
“Monticello’s very athletic and they’ve got girls on the front row who can really jump,” Moulton said. “You have to give ’em credit. They have a different offense [from everybody else] and it causes problems. Monticello always pushes us.”
“That was intense,” Moulton told Atack minutes later, noting the playoff-like atmosphere.
“I had no problem with [the match],” Atack said. “My kids played with heart and never gave up until the last point.”
Atack noted that her charges had nine service errors, and and too many free balls which enabled Cornwall to “hammer the ball back at us.”
“It’s not that we did not try,” Atack said. “They were the better team tonight.”
Though a league title now seems out of reach Atack is hoping her team can peak at the end of the season.
“That’s prime time, the playoffs,” she said.
Sanders led Monticello with 14 points, two for aces, four kills and eight blocks. Polly Palhano added 14 digs, five kills and six blocks. Emily Drobysh was dominant at the net, with 11 kills and 11 blocks. Sisters Iris and Erin Robinson had seven points each.