Indians like chances at state
When the team seeding and pool placement was announced for the Class 4A state volleyball tournament earlier this week, Montrose High School had no complaints.
Even with Elizabeth, which beat Montrose in a regular-season tournament, in the three-team pool, the Indians believe they have a chance to be the team that advances to the semifinals.
“I think we’re in as good a pool as we could ask for,” said Montrose coach Shane Forrest, whose squad is 21-4 and drew the fifth seed.
That put the Indians in a pool with fourth-seeded Thomas Jefferson and No. 9 Elizabeth. They’ll face Elizabeth in the second match of pool play Friday, then meet Thomas Jefferson first thing Saturday when pool play resumes at 8 a.m.
“We really believe we can get out of pool play and be a final four team,” said Forrest, who coached Montrose to state berths in 2007 and 2008.
Elizabeth beat Montrose 25-20, 25-14 in the Mitchell Tournament on Oct. 26, but Forrest said her team was “not playing our best,” and, “Hopefully they see a different team from what they saw (that day).”
The Cardinals are tall and aggressive “and swing at everything at the net,” Forrest said.
Thomas Jefferson, she said, has two outstanding outside hitters who “account for 90 to 95 percent of their offense. We know who we have to key in on. ... They run a pretty fast offense to them, a lot of low, fast sets.”
Balance was the name of the game as Montrose qualified for state. The Indians have four hitters — seniors Emily Sanburg and Brooke White and juniors Randilyn Madison and Marisa Jahnke — with at least 147 kills, but no one has more than 196.
Two setters, senior Lindsey Rummings and junior Chandler Madison, run the Montrose offense, and their time on the court and production are similar.
Seven players have at least 19 aces. Seven players reached double digits for blocks. Five players have at least 146 digs.
“We’re so well-balanced we don’t lean on one hitter over another,” Forrest said. “At times, everyone has made big contributions.”
A few players separate themselves as leaders, though.
Senior libero Shea Neill is a defensive stalwart with 573 digs, averaging 22.9 digs per match.
“She’s our vocal and inspirational captain,” Forrest said. “She’s constantly talking to everyone and keeping them focused. She makes great plays, has great energy.”
Sanburg makes her presence felt with thunderous spikes, as Forrest said, “She’s the kid who gets the others excited because she hits with such authority.”
White is athletic and jumps well, and Forrest said, “She brings a lot of emotional leadership to the team.”
Montrose strikes a balance on its roster of seniors and juniors, and Elise Hill has been a contributor as a sophomore.
Forrest would like for her seniors to exit on a good note and for the returning players to build on the state experience.
“If nothing else we want to end our season satisfied with how we played, not have any regrets,” Forrest said.