Defense set to key 2017 Magic volleyball season

The Monticello volleyball team enters the 2017 season focused on a number of things, and wins and losses are not near the top of the list.

However, it is their belief that if they worry about the things that are on their list – things like team work, selflessness, and positive attitudes – the other stuff (i.e. wins and losses) will take care of themselves.

Coming off a season in which they earned the No. 4 seed in the section tournament and rolled into the section semifinal round, Monti brings back just three returners with considerable experience, but a number of girls that Coach Beth Modaff believes can step in and plug the holes left by spring graduation.

The top three returners on the squad are Faith Kopff, Mara Docherty, and Marren Brion, all seniors.

Kopff excelled as the libero last season, earning Mississippi 8 honors for her strong place. She will be the backbone to the defense, which is expected to be the strong suit for the 2018 Magic squad. Docherty and Brion are both hitters, bringing a punch to the offense and at times a wall to the defense.

Monti will have a number of other girls in the varsity mix this season, some of whom have varying levels of varsity experience.

Molly Walter, a senior outside hitter, is one girl that is expected to make a difference for the Magic.

“She’s particularly strong defensively and has really increased her offense, too,” said Modaff.

Sydney Lemke, a sophomore, and Josie Bovee, a senior, will split setting duties for Monti this season.

Carlee Hinz, another senior, will contribute as a middle hitter, while Marin Thornton will also get time up front.

Modaff said Thornton, a junior, has a lot of potential.

“She’s really strong, and hits the ball really hard,” said Modaff.

Alyssa Huschka will be another key member of the 2017 squad. The senior outside hitter is one of Monti’s biggest weapons.

“She’s a really great serving specialist for us,” said Modaff, adding that Huschka won Monti a number of points at the service line in Thursday’s victory against the Tigers.

But more than talented individuals, what stands out to Modaff about this group is how they come together.

“We have really great leadership,” she said, pointing to the team’s all-out effort in its opening win as a good example of the girls’ commitment.

“Nothing landed without a really great effort from everybody,” said Modaff.

While the team expects to be strong on defense from the get-go, Modaff says the offense is still getting into the swing of things. She wants to run an aggressive offense, which means getting the girls to attack the net a little more often than they may be used to doing.

“That’s something we’re really working on,” she said. “When it’s there, we have to swing.”

Monti hopes to factor in to both the conference and section races this season, but those aren’t what Modaff lists as goals. The head coach said the main objective for this team is to play together and to play at the highest potential they have as a team.

“If we take care of those kinds of things … we will see a lot of success,” she said.

Monti started the season with a 3-2 win against St. Cloud Tech, before falling 3-2 to St. Cloud Apollo.

Monti will return to the hardwood Tuesday, Sept. 5 for a road match against Becker at 7 p.m. Monti’s next home game is Thursday, Sept. 7 when the Big Lake Hornets come to town for a Mississippi 8 tilt at 7 p.m.

Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]