Western volleyball finds groove against Monticello

Western Albemarle came into Monticello amped up about playing a Jefferson District rival. It showed in the first set. While the Mustangs put up valiant fights to start the second set and the way through the third set, the Warriors were simply locked in on Thursday as they were able to come away with a 3-0 win, 25-10, 25-16, 25-19.

“I told them that this was not just the best we’ve played ability wise, but the best we’ve played from a cohesive and rhythm stand point so far,” said Western coach Ron Pack. “That first set, it was by far the best we’ve had all season in that regard. I think we were just really up for this match.”

It was a 10-3 start that put the Warriors out in front to start the match, and 16-8 was the closest the Mustangs could get to the lead in the first set with Western forcing Monticello in a number of errors on top of simply getting things done on offense. It didn’t take long after that for the Warriors finish what they started to go up 1-0.

“It was slow start and we had a couple of great practice leading up to this, but it seemed like the energy just disappeared and it’s hard to put a finger on it,” said Mustangs coach John Mitchem.

In game two things were tight for the first 10 points at 5-5, but Western pulled out in front thanks to a 8-3 run. Monticello was able to keep pace from their until late, but at 20-15, the Warriors took five of the next six points to claim a 2-0 advantage.

“We just tried to keep the intensity up and push through point-by-point,” said Warriors senior Maggie Kooken. “I think this was our best team effort all-around this year and it just felt really great.”

The third set was the most even by far with game going back and forth to the point of 14-14. But a 4-0 run put Western ahead and Monticello wasn’t able to close the gap from there to force a forth game.

“We played well in the third and passed well there,” Mitchem said. “But we had 15 hitting errors in the match and that’s going to get to the win against that team.”

For Western, Kooken had eight kills, nine digs and nine service points. Maggie Spindel had nine kills to lead the offense. Ivy Morgan had 12 service points and a trio of aces. Alison Sandridge had 10 service points. Setter Lauren Reifsteck finished with 23 assists and eight digs. Libero Marina Clark had nine digs.

Monticello’s Kaona Ayres led the offense with five kills while Lyra Payne had four. Charlotte Devine had nine digs and three kills and an ace. Setter Allie Perez had 13 assists. Libero Trystam Carr finished with eight digs.

Western (10-1, 3-0) jumps out of district to host its own invitational tournament on Saturday.

Monticello (8-5, 3-1) travels to Fluvanna County on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.