By Gary Axelbank
The Monroe Mustangs women’s volleyball team put on a show of heart and soul to defeat a determined West Point Prep team 3-1 (25-14, 25-19, 23-25, 25-14) and win the championship of the New York Classic Volleyball Tournament that they hosted this past weekend at the MAC (Monroe Athletic Complex). OH Lilliana Gonzalez was named tournament MVP. Monroe is now 22-5 on the season.
In their five tournament matches Monroe had not lost even one set. But the finals were different. The Knights were well-prepared and answered many Mustang kill attempts with blocks and spikes of their own. But Monroe responded with an extraordinary 87 digs that ultimately frustrated West Point and catapaulted them to the championship.
“All season long we’ve talked about raising the level of our play to meet big challenges,” said coach Nephtali Delgado Reyes, “and today we did that. West Point is well-coached and they gave us a lot to handle. But we were just as determined and defended very well. We were able to dig some of their best shots, giving us a chance to win.”
The final was maybe the best played match of the tournament. Monroe won the first two sets that featured a number of long and thrilling volleys. But in the third the Knights jumped out to a lead that they were able to maintain, with Monroe making some key service errors at the end.
But that effort seemed to sap West Point of its edge and Monroe was able to rejuvenate its clever passing game and variety of kills to take the fourth set and the title.
Earlier in the day, Monroe had defeated Lackawana to qualify for the finals 3-0 (25-6, 25-15, 25-10). This was the second tournament that Monroe has won this season. They opened the season with five consecutive wins to take the Niagara Tournament.
Monroe will be home to play CCRI on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 3:00 p.m.