By Mark Nelson Herald Writer
MONROE — There’s a target firmly pinned on the Snohomish Panthers volleyball team.
Snohomish swept Monroe 3-0 in a Western Conference North Division match on Thursday night at Monroe High School, making the Panthers the last remaining undefeated team in the league.
Shelby Short had 35 assists and freshman outside hitter Lanesha Reagan finished with 12 kills as the Panthers (4-0 league, 8-0 overall) took the match in straight sets 25-16, 26-24, 25-23.
“I’m a little bit surprised it went in three (games),” Snohomish head coach Kris Jones said. “We were expecting a long battle tonight. I think maybe expecting that helped us play our best from the very beginning. It was a good win.”
Snohomish utilized an 8-4 run late in the first game to grab the momentum, but Monroe (3-1, 7-1) clawed back in games two and three — dropping both by two-point margins.
“They put a lot of pressure on themselves (to win),” Bearcats head coach April Munoz said.
Sophomore outside hitter Melina Seabrook had 12 kills and was a big reason Monroe stayed close with her attacks from the left side of the court. Meagan McPhetridge had 12 kills and 12 digs and junior setter Kendal Munoz dished out 25 assists as the Bearcats failed to gain an edge.
“We came out with a lot of nerves,” April Munoz said. “We have a tendency to be a little timid at home with our home fans. Once (the team) settled down, they just weren’t executing. They weren’t in the right place and it’s a learning experience that you’ve got to be crisp if you want to beat strong teams.”
Senior libero Nicole Reyling finished with 13 digs for Monroe.
Snohomish’s Reagan powered through a block for the match-winning kill in the third game and Megan Rice, a senior outside hitter, finished with 10 kills and 21 digs for the Panthers.
“We were doing a really good job of spreading the offense out and using different hitters instead of the same one,” Jones said. “People were working together.”
Monroe showed grit while rallying from five points behind midway through the second game, and three points late, to tie the score at 24-24 on a McPhetridge service ace.
A hitting error and a game-winner by Rice gave the Panthers a quick 2-0 lead as Snohomish tried to contain Monroe’s dangerous outside hitters Seabrook and McPhetridge.
“We just wanted to shut them down,” Short said of defending the Bearcats attacking duo.
Monroe maintained a slim lead in the final game before Snohomish took over for good at 9-8 on a Monroe hitting error.
Snohomish’s lead grew to as much as 22-17 before a spirited comeback — led by three kills and an ace from Seabrook — brought the score to 23-22, forcing a Snohomish timeout.
Reagan supplied two kills, bookended around a McPhetridge kill to end the match and preserve the Panthers untarnished record.
“We definitely had them in the crosshairs,” Jones said of the Bearcats.
Now, every other Wesco North team has Snohomish in the sights.
“Sometimes you want to be in that (No. 1) position, but it’s not exactly the best position because people do bring their A-game when they face you,” Jones said. “It’s good, but after Monday we got back through the rounds again and we meet everybody again.”
Monroe will certainly circle the day of the rematch on its calendar.
“The pressure will be off because we have nothing to lose,” April Munoz said.