Monroe spikes M-P for title

MONROE — In volleyball, like all team sports, you want your stars to shine brightest when adversity is staring them in the face.

The Monroe Bearcats have one of those stars in Kylin Munoz.

The 6-foot-1 inch outside hitter had six kills in a key 7-0 run early in the deciding fifth game leading the Bearcats to a 23-25, 25-17, 25-20, 23-25, 15-8 Western Conference North Division victory over the Marysville-Pilchuck Tomahawks Thursday night at Monroe High School.

The reigning Herald Volleyball Player of the Year finished with a school-record and career-high 48 kills in lifting the Bearcats (7-0 in league, 11-1 overall) to the North Division championship and a No. 1 seed heading into the 4A District 1 tournament which begins Nov. 12.

“It’s a dream come true. Perfect game,” Munoz, one of two seniors on the squad, said after leading her team to the Senior Night victory.

Munoz has long been a headache for the Tomahawks. Marysville-Pilchuck has not beaten the Bearcats in the four years Munoz has been at Monroe.

“For four years we’ve played against Kylin and we haven’t won a match in four years,” Marysville-Pilchuck head coach Shelly Johnson said.

After a strong third game that saw the Bearcats use a 10-1 run to pull away and take a 2-1 lead, the senior who has verbally committed to playing volleyball for Brigham Young University, was brought back to Earth in the fourth game thanks to an outstanding defensive performance by senior libero Jade Thompson. A performance that earned praises on both sides of the net.

Like pulling weeds from a garden, Thompson was digging Munoz kills right and left keeping alive not only plays but the match.

“They are a strong defensive team. Their libero (Thompson) is very strong and very aggressive,” said Monroe head coach April Munoz, who also is Kylin’s mother.

“Munoz is totally tough to defend. I think I have the best defender in the league. I think she had Kylin having to hit it extra (hard) because she kept returning the ball,” Johnson said of Thompson, who finished with 31 digs.

After the Tomahawks bounced back with a 25-23 Game 4 victory, the Bearcats went to their star, who quickly put an end to any hope the Tomahawks had in clinching a higher seed at districts.

“That’s the advantage of having a very, very talented Division 1 hitter. She can handle moving things around and keep firing away,” April Munoz said of Kylin.

Monroe battled through its own adversity in the third game when Monroe’s other heavy hitter Megan Birch went out with an ankle injury with the score knotted at 3-3.

Birch did not return, forcing the Bearcats to shuffle their lineup and cause the young squad to step up.

“At first I thought it’d be a huge impact, but the rest of the kids stepped up and it wasn’t as large as an impact I would’ve expected. I was really proud of the way they rallied around and got in there and did the job. There were kids in positions they had never played before. Heather Recor hadn’t gone in as a right-side hitter before. Our freshman (Kendal Munoz) played outside for us,” coach Munoz said.

Kendal Munoz finished with 15 kills and Kaitlin Lebon and Nicole Reyling combined for 25 digs.

“We were definitely at first a little shaken but I think our team did a good job putting it together,” Kylin Munoz said.

Munoz added 18 digs and Kaitlyn Drew finished with a stunning 66 assists.

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