Monticello volleyball team bounces back with victories

The Magic volleyball team headed into the final stretch of the season in need of a pick-me-up. After a strong start to the season, Monticello lost 7 of 9 matches from late September into early October.
But starting on Saturday, they appeared to reverse the direction of their season.
After a tough start to the St. Michael-Albertville tournament, the Magic bounced back to earn victories over Woodbury and St. Cloud Tech on the final day, before falling to Bemidji.
The Magic were able to carry the momentum over, earning three-set sweeps over section opponents both Monday and Tuesday night.
“We’ve made a few different changes,” said Coach Beth Modaff. “It seems to be working well.”
The upturn in play is coming at the perfect time. Monticello, likely to be the fourth seed in Section 8AAA now has just over a week to prepare for sections, which will begin for the Magic next Friday.
If not for the recent winning streak, they may have fallen out of the top four.
But playing the two teams immediately below them in the section standings, Monticello was dominant Monday and Tuesday.
Monday, it was Sauk Rapids that the Magic swept. Tuesday, it was St. Cloud Tech.
“It was really important that we played well against them, and came out on top to hold our position,” said Modaff.
The seniors led the effort this week, with Jamie Maus recording 20 kills in each match and Laura Wurtinger racking up nearly sixty assists during the two matches.
The Magic have had plenty of other individuals step up, too. Sara Macek has continued to hit well. Hannah Wetter and Mackenzie Stein are blocking well. Katie Fisettte has stepped into the libero spot and played “very well.” Melissa Schmitt and Leaha Diekman have been strong as defensive specialists.
But according to Modaff, it is the play of the entire team, as a team, that has Monticello headed in the right direction.
“We’re communicating a lot better,” said Modaff. “As a result, we’re passing better. That allows us to run our offense a lot better.”
With that communication, and with that success, the team has a renewed sense of confidence as they get ready to begin postseason play.
“It’s huge for them,” said Modaff. “To win, and win well, is always a good confidence booster.”
Deemed the early season section favorites by statewide volleyball publications, the Magic will have their work cut out for them, likely working from the fourth spot in the section.
“The goal of the girls is still to win the section,” said Modaff. “Whatever we have to do to get there, that is what we’re going to do.”
If they are the four seed when brackets are announced later this week, Monticello will get a bye in the opening round of playoffs beginning Wednesday, Oct. 23. The Magic will then host a quarterfinal game Friday, Oct. 25.

Contact Clay Sawatzke at clay.sawatzke@ecm-inc.com

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