By Rob Potter
FALLSBURG The Monticello volleyball team swept its way to a season-opening victory on Wednesday afternoon.
The visiting Lady Panthers defeated the Fallsburg Lady Comets, 25-16, 25-8, 25-17, in a non-league match.
Fallsburg (0-1) took an early 3-2 lead in Game 1 on a Monticello service error.
But two aces by Eryn Robinson moments later helped the Lady Panthers rally for a 6-3 advantage.
The Lady Comets closed to within a point at 8-7 when Stephanie Rose served an ace.
After Monticello (1-0) hit the net twice attempting to return serves, Rose recorded another ace to give Fallsburg a 10-8 lead.
Alycha DeLuca, Alissa Hermida, Nicole Keesler and Robinson all had aces as the Lady Panthers outscored Fallsburg 17 to 6 to close out the game.
Monticello continued its strong serving in the second game. Hermida, Robinson and Jordan Kunis each recorded two aces as the Lady Panthers jumped out to a 13-5 advantage.
DeLuca added a pair of aces as Monticello ended the game with a 12-1 scoring run.
Consecutive aces by Paige Schoonmaker gave the Lady Panthers a 7-2 lead early in Game 3.
The Lady Comets pulled to within 14-12 when Lauren Elliot served an ace.
But Monticello scored the next two points to push its advantage to 16-12.
The Lady Panthers reached match point at 24-17 when Hayley Brennan served an ace. On Brennan’s next serve, the Fallsburg return hit the net to give Monticello the win.
DeLuca and Robinson led the Lady Panthers to victory. DeLuca finished the match with 11 points and two aces, while Robinson had 10 points and four aces.
Several other players helped Monticello start its season with a win. Kunis and Schoonmaker each registered four points and two aces, Kate Oldfield had five points, three kills and two aces and Hermida made four kills.
“I think we played pretty well,” Monticello Coach Karen Atack said. “This group has some big shoes to fill. We lost all of our starters [to graduation] except for Eryn [Robinson].”
But the veteran coach is confident her players will step up and play as well as the players who graduated back in June.
"This is a great group of girls," Atack said. "They work hard and play well together. I expect them to improve with each match as they find their chemistry."
Benjamin, Melendez and Rose paced the Lady Comets.
Benjamin had six digs, five points, one kill and once ace, Melendez recorded two digs, two points, one ace and one kills and Rose added four points and once ace.
"We were in it this year," said a happy Fallsburg Coach Andrea Millas, referring to the fact that Monticello scored a much more lopsided victory over the Lady Comets early last season. "I was duly impressed with the way we played. We worked hard and played as a team."
"It's a little disappointing to start off the season by losing a match against a good Class A team like Monticello," she added. "But we didn't give up and played hard."