Milano mulls another playoff run
This season, King will look to replace three starters due to graduation, including last year’s district MVP.
Five key players return off of last year’s squad, led by junior volleyball fanatic Myka Morehead, a first team all-district selection last season.
Other returnees are seniors Elizabeth Holt (honorable mention all-district last season) and Kelly Wadlington, junior Halle McManess and sophomore Keely LaGrone.
With that loss to graduation, there will be some available spot on the varsity roster.
“There is some competition for spots this year, so the line up may be evolving over the first several weeks.,” King said. “I am expecting confusion at first and steady improvement each day.”
“She is incredibly athletic and had a great first week,” King said.
Two other freshmen, Camille Messer and Cashlyn Blake, who were out the first week of workouts for various reasons, are also fighting for positions on the varsity roster.
“ We are typically small but ‘scrappy’,” King said. “I look for us to get better every day that we are in the gym and by district we should be ready to go.”
Just 17 girls came out for volleyball in Milano, but that is about average in recent years.
“I expect us to be focused on playing defense as always and Coach: Wendy King (20th year, 415- 154, 12 district titles) 2012 record: 29-7 District record: 14-1 (co-champions) Last playoff appearance: 2012. Last winning season: 2012. Playoffs: Lost to Cayuga in regional quarterfinals. State tournaments: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005. Starters lost: Stonie Guthrie (All- State), Hayleigh LaGrone, Kiersten Bastow. Key returnees: Myka Morehead, jr.; Elizabeth Holt, sr.; Halle McManess, jr.; Kelly Wadlington, sr.; Keely LaGrone, so. Key newcomer: Naomi Graham, fr. eliminating errors, which is much easier said than done,” King said. “ The girls I have this year are very hard workers...I am looking forward to a great season with this group.”
GRADUATION WOES—Lost to graduation was last year’s district MVP and all-state outside hitter Stonie Guthrie, along with second team selection Kiersten Bastow and honorable mention Hayleigh LaGrone, both setters.
Reserves Brianna Roth and Raighley Shaw also graduated.
PLAYOFF HOPES—The Lady Eagles were co-district champions last season and had a 16 game winning streak at the end of the season before being knocked out of the post-season.
Milano reached the regional quarterfinals last season, falling to state semifinalist Cayuga in straight sets. The Lady Eagles have not missed the post-season since 2000.
King says she feels that her team could play past the regular season yet again.
“I expect that we will be in the playoff hunt and be a serious contender to win again, but I know other teams have talent coming back too, so it should be a fun district season,” the veteran coach said.
Milano will face district foes Bartlett, Buckholts, Granger, Georgetown Gateway, Holland, Thrall and Milam County neighbor Thorndale.
Thus far at Milano, King has won 415 games (reaching the 4oo mark last season) and lost 154. No stats have been found for the first year of her taking over as head coach for the Lady Eagles in 1995, so the record is from her last 19 years.
King led Milano to four straight trips to the state tournament in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005, with a state finalist medal in 2005.
SCRIMMAGES— Mi lano played in scrimmage matches held at Franklin and Cameron over the weekend.
“We looked rough Friday (as expected). We changed our serve-receive pattern Saturday and looked much better,” King said. “I had to find a way for Kelly Wadlington to take a very large percentage of the serves. She is an outstanding passer and the more she touches the ball, the better we are. I think everyone was more comfortable with the new rotation and we are going to stick with that.”
SEASON OPENER—The Lady Eagles opened up their 2013 campaign with a road trip to Rockdale on Tuesday night (see story on 1C). This weekend they will be at the Cameron tourney.