They're definitely not the same volleyball team from last season, but there's no denying Monache High School is here to win.
Even with the Marauders still figuring out their rotation, they walked away Monday night with a 3-0 victory at Lindsay (0-1) to open the season. Monache (1-0) won the sets 25-12, 25-16 and 25-11 respectively.
“We're still working on it,” MHS head coach Rosalia Quinones said about the rotation. “We have my six returners, those are my strongest rotation, so we're trying to figure out how to start off.”
Back for Monache are four seniors — setter Gabriella Cox, libero Kristen Watson, middle hitter Tia Jules and outside hitter Hally Flynn — and junior outside hitters Kailyn Castle and Ashlynn Baxter.
Cox finished with 28 assists and seven aces, Castle had eight digs and Watson totaled seven digs. Jules led the team in kills with eight while both Flynn and Baxter had seven.
The kill count might sound low if you've paid attention to Marauders volleyball in the past but one has to remember it's still early in the season and the team no longer has power hitters Hailey Kelley and Madisyn Baxter, two of the team's top hitters over the last two years.
“We're executing, we're passing,” Quinones said. “I think our kills-to-ratio sets, compared to last year, we're not there but it's a different team and we're only going to get better.”
A positive for the team is the way their younger players are playing. Both Castle and Ashlynn Baxter played in more than half the team's sets last season but they're coming into their own along with freshman middle blocker Morgan Hunter .
“They're doing an amazing job,” Quinones said about the juniors. “They're primary passers, they're servers and they're outside hitters. They're doing an awesome job.
“But Morgan, Morgan Hunter,” Quinones said. “You've seen her. She's a big girl, she's a freshman. Only has two years of experience and I mean she's power and confidence. She's still learning daily and there's nothing but great things ahead for her. She's really going to help us out. We lost three big people last year so she's stepping it up big time as a freshmen. She can handle it.”
There's a lot on Monache's plate this season with the team eyeing a repeat as the East Yosemite League champions and nothing less than an appearance in the Central Section Division III semifinals.
“Of course, this year we are defending EYL champions so obviously that's our No. 1 goal,” Quinones said. “And these girls are hungry. We've gone three years, quarterfinals, so that's our second goal. We definitely want to get to the semifinals. We can do it, everybody understands their roles and where we're at and what needs to be done. So I'm confident that we can get there.”
Monache's next match is tonight against Div. III opponent Cesar Chavez in Delano.