With the depth on the Montini roster this season, players have to have their individual games always at their best.
And senior setter Bridget Lucas wouldn't have it any other way.
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"It's definitely competitive. You always want to play to the best of your ability," she said. "But there's always somebody there to pick you up when you are down."
The Broncos' depth was on display Monday night in Lombard as No. 13 Montini dispatched Wheaton Academy 25-14 and 25-13 with a strong display of hitting led by Natalie Lopez's 11 kills and eight kills each from Monica Loftus and Joyce Balash.
The win pushed Montini's record to 20-2 and 7-1 in the Suburban Christian Blue. With about three weeks left in the regular season, Broncos coach Steve Dowjotas is starting to prepare his team for the postseason. It will be in the Class 3A Timothy Christian regional with No. 1 St. Francis and the No. 20 host.
"We have been focusing on who we will come up against in the playoffs and it's nice to see what we have been working on in games," he said.
The Broncos led from the start in Game 1, taking a 10-4 lead on one of two aces on the evening from Mary Long.
Wheaton Academy (20-10, 4-4 SCC Gold) caught a spark with Zoe Kight serving. She served up five straight points, including kills by Samantha Krill and Brianna Tellschow to cut the Montini advantage to 12-11. The Broncos, though, then responded by scoring 13 of the next 16 points to win the opening game.
Montini jumped out to a 12-5 lead in Game 2. A serving error by the Broncos put the Warriors to within 13-8, but the victors increased their lead to 18-9 and cruised from there.
"I think how we practice has been key. We like to joke around and have fun, but we take it seriously," Lucas said. "We have high hopes of where we want to go this season."
Tellschow and Annie Brcka each had 3 kills for the Warriors.
Coach D.A. Nichols said Wheaton Academy is facing a huge challenge that he believes will be tough but that the Warriors can meet. It will be life without outside hitter Sydney Vischer, who suffered a back injury during Saturday's third-place finish at the IMSA Schwartzwalder Classic. Nichols said a timetable for her return isn't known yet.
"She's our kill leader, she's second in digs. I knew it would be tough today. They haven't found themselves yet," he said of his players. "But give credit to Montini. They are a strong team and they beat us when we were at full strength earlier in the season."
Nichols said he was going to make the most of the practices before Wheaton Academy's next match on Thursday at home against Guerin.
"We are going to have to come up with a whole new game plan. It's not the end of the world. It will be a challenge. But we'll be ready," he said.