A group of seven seniors who come from a variety of different social cliques have one common denominator — volleyball.
That’s what Montrose High School head coach Shane Forrest said of her seven athletes who were honored for Senior Night before Thursday night’s volleyball home match against Delta.
“The amazing thing about them is that they can come together in the gym as a team and be unified,” Forrest said. “ … (But) they’ve played volleyball for a very long time. For some of them, it was as early as seventh grade.
One of those seniors, Madison Hickert, said the volleyball camaraderie between the seven of them dates back “to a long time.”
Hickert, alongside Ashlyn Manuel, Hadley Greiner, Isabel Stollsteimer, Caraline Burwell, Macy Boulden and Madison Satterly were all honored during the festivities. The seniors were all thanked for their four years of dedication to the program before getting flowers, gifts and hugs from their teammates and parents.
“It’s a really neat experience,” said Hickert. “I love these girls, coaches and the team.”
The Lady Indians (12-3; 4-1 in Southwestern League) put on a show as they won in straight sets: 25-18, 25-18 and 25-10, against the Panthers (10-6; 5-1 in Western Slope League).
Satterly led the way for Montrose with 12 kills while Kelsey Rocco tallied nine and Burwell added seven. On the defensive end, Greiner had 16 digs and Rocco and Madi Matoush both collected 11.
In spite of the sweep, the Lady Indians struggled in a “riddled-with-errors” first set, Forrest said.
The Panther jumped out to an early 8-3 lead, which forced the Montrose coach to call a timeout.
During the stoppage, Forrest simply told the players to relax as they were still excited about the Senior Night ceremony.
The timeout seemed to work as Montrose went on a 10-4 run to take a 13-12 edge and never trailed again.
But pulling away from Delta was the hard part as the score was tied three different times before the home team pulled away at 20-17.
The Lady Indians kept the pace up as Burwell forced set-point with a nifty block.
Although the first and second set scores were identical, Montrose led most of the second game.
The hosts’ biggest lead was seven at 16-9 before the visitors cut the deficit to three, 18-15.
Montrose, however, didn’t seem bothered by Delta’s run as the Lady Indians won five of the next six points to jump back out to a seven-point advantage, 23-16.
The Panthers couldn’t come back as an attacking error by them helped the hosts win set No. 2
The third and final game wasn’t as close as the other two. Montrose lead wire-to-wire and built its double-digit lead as early as 15-5 before winning the set by 15 points.
“They just controlled it in the third set,” Forrest said. “... In the second and third sets, we just eliminated those (early) errors.”
But there’s still a lot of season to go as the Lady Indians have three more league matches, including one at home on Oct. 26 against Durango — the team that gave Montrose its lone blemish in league play.
Before then, though, Montrose has another tough matchup as it’ll battle Fruita Monument at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, on the road.
Those two aforementioned games, and one with Grand Junction Central on Oct. 22, will more than likely determine which team comes away with the league title. It’s a three-way race as Montrose and Fruita have the same 4-1 SWL record while Durango is 2-1.
“It’s up in the air. We’ve got a lot of work to do to capture (SWL championship),” Forrest said.
If Montrose hopes to win league, it’ll come down to the players making less mistakes going forward, said Forrest.
“We’ve got to manage our errors and stay together as a team,” she said. “That commitment and energy is going to be really important.”
But the Lady Indians have another goal on their radar as they hope to host regionals early next month. If the season ended today, Montrose would be a site for the tournament because the team is currently ranked No. 4 in Class 4A.
Forrest said if this became a reality, then it would be the team’s “ultimate goal” realized.
Becoming a regional tourney host is also based on how the Lady Indians perform in the Palmer Ridge Tournament after league play has ended, the Montrose coach added.
“That’ll be the determining factor,” she said.