For the Magic volleyball team, the conference season didn’t exactly get off to the start they had hoped for. After beating Cambridge to go 1-0 in conference play, they fell in three straight conference matches, including two five-set heartbreakers. But Thursday night, Monticello showed strong signs of reversing that tide.
Solid and consistent play pushed the Magic to a three-set sweep over the visiting Big Lake Hornets, as Monticello moved to 2-3 in the conference and 9-6 overall.
“It felt great,” said junior standout Jamie Maus after the win. “Got that feeling of teamwork again, got that momentum and confidence back.”
The Magic certainly picked up momentum as they steamrolled through the Hornets, 25-15, 25-19, 25-14. But they also showed signs of improvement that were more tangible than momentum.
They got continued great play from Maus, who had a team-high 12 kills to go with 2 block aces, 2 services aces and 10 digs. They also got balance from the front line, as Bailey Bechtold added 11 kills and freshman Sarah Macek finished with 10 kills after a hot start to the match. They also got strong defensive play from Gabbi Stein, as she finished with a team-high 17 digs. Then the Magic were able to turn those defensive plays into offense throughout the night, led by the 21 assists of Haley Shaw as well as 14 from Laura Wurtinger.
“I thought we did a little bit better on defense and ball control,” said Coach Beth Modaff. “It’s still not where I think it needs to be for us to go far, but we’re getting there.”
After starting the season 4-1, the Magic ran into some road bumps. But rarely were they getting blown out. In each of their five-set conference losses they held a lead at one point in the match. They’ve shown plenty of moments throughout the season, both in small samples and in big samples. Now it becomes a matter of making those moments a bit more consistent if the Magic are to make a run back to contention in the conference. One big thing they have going for them is that as a young team, they are still growing together.
“I think we’re getting more and more used to each other as the season goes along,” said Maus. “We have more confidence in ourselves.”
That confidence will be needed as they’re set to square off with each of their conference opponents one more time this season. With only six Mississippi 8 teams, the Magic are playing each team twice this year, and this year only.
“I’m really looking forward to it this year,” said Modaff. “It’s something we can build for, and it gives us motivation.”
The Magic will get their first shot at revenge tonight when they host St. Michael-Albertville, one of the two conference teams to beat them in five sets, at 7 p.m. at the high school.