Monticello had to just hang in there. And hang in there again. And hang in there again.
“We lost the first set, we were out of rotation, won the second set and killed it, lost the third and we just came back and kept persevering,” said Monticello’s Meghan Walin.
Hanging in there long enough gave the Mustangs a critical 3-2 victory over Fluvanna County at home Tuesday. With a season sweep of the Flucos, Monticello holds a big leg up in securing the automatic Region 3C playoff berth from the Jefferson, though a pair of matches with a resurgent Western Albemarle squad remain.
Fluvanna jumped out to a 1-0 lead with a 25-23 win in game one but Monticello responded well, cruising in game two 25-13. Fluvanna answered in kind with a 25-17 victory in game three to grab a 2-1 lead and set up a dramatic game four.
“I’m extremely proud of the way they fought and kept believing in themselves with each point,” said Monticello coach Meg Carpenter.
It first appeared that game four would swing hard back to the Mustangs like the first three games, with Monticello jumping out to a 7-1 lead. Fluvanna rallied though and clawed within a point at 14-13. The match was tied at 22-22 and seesawed back and forth until Monticello pulled out a 27-25 win in extra points with a pair of Fluvanna errors closing out the game.
In game five, the Mustangs built a 10-6 lead and held on to win 15-10, with Walin notching a kill on the final point as part of an 11-kill, 14-dig, 4-ace performance. Walin’s all-around performance was critical to the win.
“After every single game she asks me coach what can I work on, how can I get better, she’s so determined to do what she needs to do to help the team out,” Carpenter said. “Each game, those things that we talk about are improving.”
Allie Cognata put together a nearly identical stat sheet-stuffing outing to spark the Mustangs, finishing with 15 kills, five aces and 14 digs. Ellie Quick chipped in 10 kills and seven digs while Jewel Pugh rang up 41 assists and had five kills of her own. Allison Davis finished with four blocks.
For Fluvanna, Lindsey Ward set the table all night with 44 assists and a balanced offense gave the Flucos some flow. Khamare Steppe finished with 10 kills while Christina Walker had nine kills, Katie Morris had seven kills and Savannah Quinn finished with six kills. The Mustangs had to fight off that balanced attack all night and brought in Adaire Burnsed to help on the block.
“Our biggest thing was communicating on what their offense was showing us and how we could adjust,” Carpenter said. “They did a good job on defense seeing where we needed to fill and adjusting our blocking. When we moved Adaire in that added just another element.”