NFL Hall of Famer quarterback Steve Young once quipped, “Get this monkey off my back” after winning his first Super Bowl as a starter for the San Francisco 49ers.
The Montrose High School volleyball team felt like that after Tuesday’s home match as the Lady Indians (7-2; 1-0 in Southwestern League) beat the Fruita Monument Wildcats (2-5; 0-1 in SWL): 19-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-18, for the first time since October 2016.
And for some players, this was their first victory against the Wildcats as a member on varsity.
“It feels really good and to have our first league win at home,” MHS coach Shane Forrest said, adding the win came down to Fruita having younger players than in past years while Montrose is filled with seasoned athletes.
MHS senior Caraline Burwell said there’s a sense of relief after winning a hard-fought match.
“It always feels great to beat Fruita. … It’s nice to see that we can come together as a team and pull out a win like that,” said Burwell, who had a team-high 17 kills.
She wasn’t the only one helping the Montrose effort. Madison Satterly finished the match with 15 kills, while Kelsey Rocco ended up with a double-double of 11 kills and 22 digs and Taylor Foster added eight kills and 13 digs.
Seniors Hadley Greiner and Isabel Stottsteimer also got it done on the defensive end. They ended up with 22 and 17 digs respectively.
Montrose’s only slip up came early, when Fruita stole the first game.
Forrest said the early loss came down to the team experiencing a hangover from losing its first two games of the season over the weekend at the Lewis-Palmer Tournament.
Despite dropping the first set, the Lady Indians seemed to have an extra gear to help them come away with winning the last three sets.
That was apparent in the second game as after a back-and-forth battle between both units, Montrose got some breathing room after going on a 7-0 run to take a 19-12 edge.
The Lady Indians would later jump out to a 22-15 lead after a Satterly kill, which made the Wildcats call a timeout. And the stoppage seemed to help as the visitors scored four-straight points to cut the deficit to three.
Montrose then called a timeout of its own, and, like Fruita’s, gave the home team some time to gain its composure. MHS rattled off three-straight points which included a Satterly kill for the set win.
“There was an obvious shift from the first to the second set in their aggressive and confidence,” Forrest said. “I think that contributed especially to that second-set win.”
Sets three and four had the same high drama because each time, Montrose had trouble pulling away from Fruita until late.
In the third game, the Lady Indians took the lead for good following a 20-all stalemate. The hosts rattled off four-straight points before the Wildcats got their final score of the set.
Rocco was then able to give Montrose a 2-1 set lead following an emphatic kill.
The Lady Indians took control of the final game earlier compared to the third set. Following the hosts holding onto a small 17-16 lead, they went on a 7-2 run to get within match point.
Montrose got some help on the game-deciding score as Fruita committed a service error that ended the contest.
“We’re feeling good,” Forrest said. “Fruita is one of the teams to beat in the league. No match is going to be easy in the league so to get one after us and the win gives us confidence going forward.”
Montrose will next play another SWL foe when the Lady Indians visit Durango at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress.