By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO In front of a very supportive home crowd on Wednesday night at “The Pit” at Monticello High School, the Monticello Lady Panthers earned a victory on the volleyball court.
No. 4 seed Monticello swept the fifth-seeded Saugerties Sawyers, 25-17, 25-13, 25-13, in an opening round match of the Section IX Class A tournament.
With the victory, the Lady Panthers advanced to the semifinals. They will play at No. 1 seed Cornwall at 6 p.m. tonight, with the winner earning a spot in the Class A championship match at 2 p.m. this Sunday at SUNY New Paltz.
Monticello overcame early 1-0 deficits in all three games against the Sawyers.
The first game was tied seven times in the early going before the Lady Panthers took a 9-8 lead on a kill by Alissa Hermida. Two service points by Kate Oldfield helped the Monties extend their advantage to 12-8.
The Lady Panthers proceed to outscore Saugerties 13-9 for the rest of the game.
In the second game, good play at the net by Hermida and outside hitter Amanda Palko helped the home team take a 10-3 lead. Monticello then went on an 8-0 run, which ended on a kill by Saugerties’ Korin Valk.
But the Lady Panthers maintained control and steadily pulled away. They sealed the victory on two aces by Hayley Brennan and a kill by Hermida.
The Sawyers took a 6-4 lead in the third game when Brooke Littlefield served two straight aces.
Moments later, a dig by Hermida gave the Monties an 11-10 lead. From that point, the Lady Panthers outscored the Sawyers 14-3 to win the game and match.
Monticello Coach Steve Matuszak praised his team for its overall performance.
“I am very happy,” he said. “We played a great match. We played with determination and played well at the net.”
He lauded Hermida and Oldfield for their outstanding play and noted that Palko “played her best match of the whole season.”
The victory improved Monticello’s overall record to 12-8.
“But what matters most is that we’re 1-0 in sectionals right now,” Matuszak said.
Palko had 10 kills, six assists and four digs, Hermida recorded 11 assists, 10 service points, eight kills, four digs, and two aces, Oldfield registered nine assists, seven service points, six digs, five kills and an ace and Brittany Santos had 11 assists, eight service points, seven digs, two kills and an ace.
For Saugerties, which ended its season with an 8-8 record, Littlefield had four kills, three aces, two assists, two blocks and one dig and Karissa Petramale had 10 digs, one ace and one kill.
“We have a very young team,” Saugerties Coach Katie Torres said. “They fought hard out on the court. But I think the long layoff hurt us. Our last match was a week and a half ago and there’s only so much you can do in practice to simulate a regular match.”