By Rob Potter
NEW PALTZ November 6, 2007 The Monticello Lady Panthers volleyball team lost only two matches this season.
And both of those defeats were at the hands of the Cornwall Lady Dragons. The Monties’ first loss to Cornwall was on October 15 in an Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division II match at Monticello High School.
The Lady Panthers’ second and more painful loss to the Lady Dragons occurred on Sunday afternoon at SUNY New Paltz.
Cornwall swept Monticello, 25-17, 25-18 and 25-17, in the Section IX Class A championship match.
With the win, Cornwall (19-1) returns to SUNY New Paltz tomorrow afternoon to face Section IV champion Vestal in the first round of the state tournament. Monticello ended its season with a 17-2 record.
A kill by senior setter/outside hitter Emily Drobysh and hitting errors by Cornwall allowed the Monties to take a 6-3 lead early in Game 1.
But the Lady Dragons responded by tying the score three times. Then they took a 13-10 advantage thanks to a Monticello error, a block by sophomore middle blocker Alex Gagliano and an ace by senior setter Samantha Kelly.
Cornwall then outscored Monticello 12-7 for the rest of the game.
The second game was tied six times before the Lady Dragons took control. Seconds after Monticello’s Polly Palhano made a kill to tie the score at 9-9, Edsall made a kill and Gagliano made a block to give Cornwall an 11-9 advantage.
The Lady Dragons gradually pulled away to win the game. The Lady Panthers twice rallied to within three points first at 18-15 and then at 19-16 as Keárya Sanders and Palhano made kills but they couldn’t get any closer.
In Game 3, Cornwall grabbed a 4-0 lead in the opening minutes and held the advantage throughout the game.
“The last thing I told them before the match began was just to go out and play and have fun,” Cornwall Coach Jeff Moulton said. “We played very consistent in each game.”
Edsall and Gagliano led the Lady Dragons to victory. Edsall had 12 kills and eight digs, while Gagliano made 12 kills and seven blocks.
“Alex did a great job at the net today,” Moulton said. “Karin was consistent and made some great kills just inside the [out-of-bounds] line.”
Leading the Monticello attack were seniors Drobysh, Palhano and Samantha Schoonmaker and junior Jordan Kunis. Drobysh had five kills, four points, two blocks and one assist; Palhano recorded eight points and six kills; Schoonmaker registered six digs, five aces and two points and Kunis had four points.
“We were outplayed in every aspect of the game today,” Monticello Coach Karen Atack said. “Number 14 [Gagliano] was a force at the net for them. And Karin Edsall was the difference in the match. She made a lot of great plays.”
As for the Lady Panthers, Atack singled out Schoonmaker for her efforts.
“She was our player of the game,” the veteran coach said of the senior defender. “Sam was named a league all-star this season and she certainly played like an all-star out there today.”
While the Lady Panthers ended their season on a disappointing note, Atack focused on the positives of this season. She noted that the team shared the OCIAA Division II championship with Cornwall and that many Lady Panthers were named to OCIAA and/or Section IX all-star teams.
“In the lockerroom, [Assistant] Coach [Ed] Kaufmann and I told the players that they had a great season and that we are very proud of all of them,” Atack said. “We reminded them that only one team can end the season with a win.”