The Lady Bucks claimed the title with a thrilling five-set victory over the St. Joseph Jayhawks in the championship match.
It looked like Monticello would be overpowered by the hard-hitting squad from St. Joseph, but the Lady Bucks relied on speed, hustle and teamwork to earn the state title.
Monticello entered the tournament as the second-ranked team in the state, behind top-seeded Rich. The Lady Bucks faced an unexpected foe in the championship when St Joseph upset Rich in the semifinal.
St Joseph was a worthy foe, featuring a tall lineup of hard hitters and strong blockers. Many of the St Joseph players compete year-round for club teams.
The Lady Bucks are led by four seniors who have earned a key role in the past two volleyball titles for the school.
Devin Dalton, Shaylynn Black, Stevee Wilcox and Jessica Ewert were rewarded for their strong play by being named to the All-Tournament team, with Dalton as the Most Valuable Player.
Dalton was the only returning starter from the 2011 state championship team. With a new lineup, the Lady Bucks were able to develop their own identity. Strong teamwork, chemistry, tenacity and hustle marked this team and it was evident in the championship match.
The Lady Bucks fell behind early in the first two sets but fought back to win them both, 25-20 and 25-19.
After the Lady Bucks took an early lead in the third set, the Jayhawks started a comeback attempt. The third set was neck and neck until it was tied 23-23. The Lady Bucks were just two points away from a championship, but St Joseph found a way to win the set, 25-23.
The momentum continued to change in the fourth game as St. Joseph pulled away from an 11-11 tie to win 25-17 and force a decisive fifth set.
The Buckaroos opened the fifth set with strong serving and defense and built an early lead at 10-4, before St. Joseph attempted a last-ditch comeback.
The lead closed to 14-11 for the Bucks, but when a Jayhawk spike landed out-of-bounds, Buckaroo Coach Tony Esplin jumped and the celebration began.
In addition to the senior leaders, a supporting cast of underclassmen also contributed to the win with strong play in the championship match. They include Mary Beh, Ashley Ewert, Shania DeAnda and Miranda Martinez.
Monticello started the tournament against the Milford Tigers. Monticello dominated the first set 25-11 before falling in the second set 29-27. It was the longest set in the entire tournament and was the last set that the Lady Bucks dropped before the championship match.
Monticello won two more sets over Milford to advance to the quarterfinal match.
Monticello dominated play while defeating Layton Christian in three straight sets 25-14, 25-14, 25-20. The win moved the Lady Bucks into the semifinal game against the Region 20 champions from Piute.
Once again, the Lady Bucks dominated play to earn a convincing three-set victory and move onto the championship game. The scores over Piute were 25-19, 25-14, 25-21.