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Monge ready for breakout season
The days of Amanda Monge flying under the radar are long gone.
Even as a 6-foot-2-inch volleyball standout on a Valley championship team at Exeter High School, Monge could hardly garner enough interest from college programs to count on one hand.
Next Tuesday, when the Porterville College volleyball team opens its 2012 season, Monge can officially put those times behind her.
“If Amanda just plays her game, she may be able to pick her next college,” said PC coach Dale Henderson.
“Everyone thought she was great last year. Just wait until they see how much she has
improved. Amanda is no longer a one-dimensional front row player. She has an all-around game that is scary good.”
By her own admission, Monge, 18, left too much on the court last season.
As the Pirates enjoyed a memorable season – going 16-8 (12-2 in the CVC) and advancing to the playoffs – the team lacked experience and mental toughness.
Their two sophomore leaders, Stephanie Dounseroux and Jennifer Landers (both now attending four-year colleges on scholarship) could only carry the team so far.
“I think about that final playoff loss every single day,” Monge said.
“It drives me crazy. The intensity wasn’t at the level it should have been. Walking out of that gym, after losing a match we should have won, I knew I was not going to let that happen again. Something had to change.”
Monge’s change came physically in spring workouts, then mentally in summer leadership classes.
Henderson identified four potential team captains, including Monge, and sent them to PC athletic director Eric Mendoza for leadership training.
Mendoza met with the players three-to-four times each week during June and July. They discussed topics such as character, commitment, and building a stronger team unit.
“I have a better attitude now,” said Monge, who was a unanimous First Team All-Central Valley Conference selection as a freshman.
“I do a better job of staying ‘up’ knowing that it has a much better impact on the rest of the team. We call it staying ‘in the green.’ The green light means go and move forward, so that’s the mental approach we all have now.”
Henderson has noticed a big difference in the way Monge, and fellow sophomore Kacey Markarian, have taken a talented freshmen group under their wing.
“I like our team chemistry,” he said.
“Amanda helps lead the way. That’s huge for a coach to see that from his best player.”
As hard as Monge hits the volleyball (her 344 kills ranked ninth in California), she is equally attacking the classroom. In each of her first three semesters, she has earned Dean’s List honors at PC.
While Monge downplays her name being considered the favorite for CVC Player of the Year, she can’t wait for next Tuesday to roll around.
“I’m so excited to get this season going,” she said.
“With this year’s team chemistry, I believe the outcome and final results will be a lot different.”
The Pirates opener against Allan Hancock at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28 is also “Youth Volleyball Night” where kids wearing their t-shirts from the PC camp or City of Porterville volleyball league will be admitted free. Doors will open at 4 p.m.
PC’s “all-sports” season passes will also be available for $15.