by Walter & Becky Bird
When the Utah High School Activities Association’s 2A Volleyball Rating Percentage Index standings came out on Friday, October 25, Monticello found themselves ranked 8th.
It meant that the team would enjoy a first-round bye in the state tournament and would play Layton Christian, who swept Utah Military Academy in round one.
So the Lady Buckaroos took all week to gear up for a second-round matchup with the Lady Eagles on Friday, November 1 at Utah Valley University in Orem.
MHS opened the match strong and never let up, dominating Layton Christian in straight sets 25-21, 25-13, and 25-12. The win set up a state quarterfinal matchup between the Lady Bucks and the undefeated top-ranked team in 2A volleyball – the Waterford Lady Ravens.
The Lady Bucks seemed a little overwhelmed in the match Friday afternoon. Unable to establish momentum, they suffered a straight-sets loss, 25-13, 25-13, and 25-17.
Monticello dropped into the fifth place bracket where they would face an equally tough opponent – #4 Millard – in a fight to keep their season alive.
On Saturday morning, MHS fell behind in the first set, trailing by as much as nine points. Although they showed some real heart to battle back, their rally fell just short in a heartbreaking 25-23 loss to the Lady Eagles.
The loss seemed to take the wind out of the Lady Bucks’ sails, as Millard jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the second set and pounded Monticello 25-10.
But MHS wasn’t done quite yet. They surged to a 6-0 third-set lead and rode the nice start to a 25-15 win.
Set four was a back-and-forth affair, but in the end the Lady Eagles ground out a 25-19 win to bring Monticello’s tournament and season to an end.
The Lady Buckaroos finish the 2019 season with a .500 record at 13-13. They were tied for second in their first year in 2A Region 16 with a 7-3 record.
Monticello Head Coach Tony Esplin will lose four seniors next season, but has some young players coming up through the ranks. They’ll have to reload in 2020 and keep fighting.
The conclusion of the volleyball season officially ends the fall sports season at MHS. In the coming weeks we’ll have season previews and coverage of the girls and boys basketball teams.
The Lady Bucks tip off the season at home against Grand on November 26 and the boys will also start the season at home also against Grand on December 3. We look forward to a great season from both teams.