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Ponies top Panthers in four
Times photo: Mark Nesbitt Monticellos Sadi Hilliard, left, goes up for a block on a tip from Judas Aly Pierce during Thursdays match.
JUDA - Not only did the Juda volleyball team have homecoming week to deal with, but the Panthers were playing without junior setter Megan Trotter in a match against Monticello Thursday night.

The Ponies pulled out a four-game win, 25-15, 25-18, 18-25, 25-22.

"I was really impressed with the first and second games," Monticello coach Scott Smice said. "I could see us letting up a little bit. Juda didn't let up. They kept coming at us tooth and nail. I told my girls you have to stay hungry."

With the win, Monticello improves to (2-5 Six Rivers East). The Ponies won the first two games before the Panthers rallied to win the third game.

The Ponies jumped out to a 15-6 lead in the first game on the heels of nine straight service points by senior Olivia Doyle. The Ponies behind senior Mersadi Hilliard and juniors Taylor Klitzke and Taylor Pfeuti dominated the net in that stretch.

"I think they did an excellent job at the net," Smice said. "I tell them every day in practice you can compete with anybody. I try to tell them to keep banging the ball sideways and across court."

Juda coach Pam Green said the Panthers had to move back-row player Tabitha Theiler to setter since Trotter was hobbled with an ankle injury.

"We didn't have much time with those girls together," Green said.

Trotter didn't play as she injured her ankle in a physical education class.

Green said the Panthers also made a defensive adjustment by having the back row setter play in the middle.

"They adjusted," Green said. "It's less transition for us. Being homecoming week, I think the kids were getting tired a little."

Juda (5-10, 3-4) had a 10-8 lead in the second game before the Ponies were able to break away. Monticello sophomore Desiree Marty scored five straight service points including two aces to give the Ponies an 18-14 lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Juda senior Heather Boeke, who had a team-high 10 kills, delivered a spike in the third game to spark the Panthers and gave them an 11-8 lead. Senior Rachel Bartels came through with an ace and Katy Knudtson had a kill to give the Panthers a 16-14 lead. The Ponies committed a costly service error that gave the Panthers a 21-17 lead en route to forcing a fourth game.

"I think we were playing tentative and not to win," Smice said. "We were tipping it right to them."

Klitzke had a match-high 12 kills and two blocks and Pfeuti had four blocks for the Ponies.

The Panthers raced out to a 5-1 lead in the fourth game, but the lead seesawed from there. Hilliard sparked the Ponies with an ace and helped them take a 16-13 lead. Boeke had a spike that gave the Panthers a 17-16 lead, but the Ponies answered. Marty scored three points including an ace to give the Ponies a 20-17 lead. Juda sophomore CJ Dunwiddie brought the Panthers back with a run from the service line to tie the game at 22, but the Ponies had the final answer.

Juda junior Aly Pierce had 10 assists and sophomore Ellen Kiser had five blocks. Bartels and Knudtson each had seven digs for the Panthers.