In high school sports, being young and inexperienced often means taking your lumps early.
Magic coach Beth Modaff is aware of that, and knew that the season could start a little slow for her volleyball team that features just one returning starter. But, she had hoped their opener against Dassel Cokato could provide a positive start before the Magic entered rougher waters. Instead it showed that the young Magic have some growing together left to do.
But Tuesday the Magic showed the bright side of young talent, as they bounced back to knock off a perennially tough Maple Lake squad.
Against DC, Monticello won the first set but dropped the next three, including the fourth set which they led 13-6 early.
“I think it was definitely winnable for us,” said Modaff. “We need to play a little bit better.”
Some of the issues for the Magic were to be expected. They were playing without freshman Sarah Macek, who is expected to be one of their top hitters, and most of the girls were playing in their first varsity game.
It made sense that they would have a few nerves, be a little slow to react to the fast pace of varsity volleyball, and have some work remaining on the communication aspect of the game.
However, there were also some more inexcusable errors that contributed heavily to the loss.
The biggest of which was unforced errors, particularly on the serve.
In the third game, the Magic had cut an early seven point deficit down to three and had two different service chances, each of which ended with Magic serves into the net.
“That’s the worst,” said Modaff. “We practice serving a lot. We have lots of incentives for making it in. We run a lot of sprints for missed serves because that’s exactly how it feels when you miss a serve, like you just got punched in the gut.”
In the fourth game, the Magic looked like they had bounced back from their previous errors as they led 13-6 and 20-15 and were looking to send the match to a fifth set.
But then, more errors combined with some good hitting from DC helped the Chargers reel off 8 of the next 9 points. Suddenly a 20-15 lead turned into a 23-25 loss and a 3 games to 1 defeat in the Magic opener.
“It’s a game of momentum and a game of errors,” said Modaff. “We started making errors and we let it get the better of us. We should have had a game 5.”
Fortunately, while Monday night was a rough start for the volleyball team, it was anything but the end of the road for a promising season.
The young squad has plenty of reasons to expect things to turn around for them in the coming days, weeks and months, and some of those were on display Monday night.
As a team, Madoff was happy with how they grasped their rotations and ran many of their plays on Monday night.
Individually, Monticello got a very solid all-around game from junior Jamie Maus, something that has come to be expected from the third-year player. But they also got a standout game from senior Bailey Bechtold, the only other returning player with any varsity experience.
“She’s really gotta step it up as far as being both a blocker and an attacker,” said Modaff. “I was very pleased with her tonight.”
Tuesday night, the Magic returned to the court, taking on Maple Lake. For those in attendance, it must have appeared to be opposite night, as the Magic reversed roles from the night prior.
After dropping the first set, 23-25, Monticello reeled off three straight sets to earn their first victory of the young season. All three sets were won by a score of 25-21.
Monticello was again led by Maus who finished tied with Bechtold for a team high with 14 kills, tied with Amanda Howe and Bechtold for a team-high three block aces, and an individual team-high 21 digs.
The Magic were boosted by the return of Macek, who had six kills, as well as solid play from Laura Wurtinger (18 assists) and Haley Shaw (14 assists, team high four service aces).
Monticello returns to action Tuesday at Rocori.