Lady Eagles find no Utopia in first round playoff loss
LULING—The Milano Lady Eagles volleyball team just could not overcome several hitting errors, as the once 11th ranked Class A team fell in four sets to the Utopia Lady Buffs on Thursday night in the area round of the state playoffs at Eagle Gym.
Milano finished 27- 9 on the season in its 12th straight trip to the post-season and were undefeated (12-0) champions of District 25A.
Utopia advanced to the regional quarterfinals where they were to play defending state champion Round-Top Carmine on Tuesday night.
The Lady Buffs, the third place team out of 27A, advanced to the match with Milano after taking down D’Hanis in three sets in the bi-district round of the playoffs.
“It came down to serves and hitting errors,” long time Lady Eagles head coach Wendy King said. “We had too many missed ser ves and too many missed opportunities at the net. We just didn’t play well at all. Utopia was a decent team.” The Lady Eagles had 12 serving errors on the night.
Milano took the first game 25- 16, but then could not hold its lead in any of the final three sets, falling 25-20, 25-22, 25-22.
The loss was the first game Milano had played since winning the outright district title on Oct. 22.
King said she was unable to find anyone willing to play her team in a warm up game before the playoffs started.
“It is unfortunate that we did not end our season playing our best, but you don’t always win and it is a tough lesson to learn,” King said. “In the playoffs, you have to bring your best effort. We didn’t.”
The loss ended Milano’s 14- game winning streak.
Junior Stonie Guthrie led the squad with 15 kills and five digs. Senior Desiree Adrian had eight kills, eight digs, three aces and one block.
Junior Raighley Shaw had three kills, four digs, three aces and two blocks, with senior Brittany Barnett adding three kills, three digs and one block.
Junior setters Kiersten Bastow and Hayleigh Lagrone had 16 and eight assists on the night, respectively.
Bastow also added 10 digs, one kill and one ace. Lagrone also had two digs. Senior Lyndsie Gray added eight digs, with sophomore libero Kelly Wadlington recording nine digs.
“The girls had a great season. We won a lot of games and had a lot of fun in the process,” King said. “I told them if losing a volleyball game is the worst thing that ever happens to them, then they would live a pretty good life. That is the truth.
“ It is more about the relationships built and the lessons learned than about the wins. We will live to win again—next year.”
The Lady Eagles haven’t missed the post-season since 2000.