EDISON – For the first time in the history of the Monroe High School girls volleyball program, the team can hang a championship banner.
Third-seeded Monroe edged fourth-seeded John F. Kennedy in three sets, 25-22, 25-12, 25-20, in the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament final on Saturday afternoon at John P. Stevens High School.
“It was a nail-biter,” Monroe head coach Mike Collins said. “That’s how we’ve played all year. All the tough matches that we’ve played we’ve gone three, and third sets are our friend because we’ve won every third set that we’ve been in.”
The third game couldn’t have been more evenly matched. Monroe (19-7) and John F. Kennedy (17-6) took turns leading. Each time one team would get up by a point, the other would come right back to tie it. The Falcons and the Mustangs were tied 12 times during the set, but at 19-19 Monroe went on a scoring streak to take the match.
“It means everything,” Collins said. “Prior to today we had nothing on our banner. It’s a young program, we’re only about eight years old so to come out and get a conference championship is huge.”
Leading the statistics for the Falcons were Victoria Kauffman, who had 25 assists, two blocks and an ace. Kassidy Utheim had six kills, a block and two aces and Sarah McGrath finished with nine kills, two aces and a block.
“Being the first team to make history for volleyball is absolutely phenomenal and I couldn’t be any prouder of my whole team,” senior captain McGrath said. “It’s a feeling I cant even explain. It’s amazing.”
The first set had the same dynamic as the third. Back-and-forth the teams battled until Monroe managed to break away to win it. In the second game the Falcons looked deflated. Bouts of miscommunication and errors cost them the set before they bounced back in the third.
McGrath attributes her teams success to her committed comrades and intense coach as Monroe never lost a home game this season.
“It’s literally like a family and I know it’s cliché to say that, but that’s exactly what it is,” McGrath said. “Mr. Collins is the most hardworking and dedicated coach I have ever me. He will do anything for the team.”
Staff Writer Alyssa Davis: firstname.lastname@example.org