Lady Eagles on the cusp of a return to state with regionals
They defeated Kerens in straight sets on Tuesday at Bison Gym in the Class A Region II quarterfinals.
Milano (33-6) will play Lindsay (33- 7), winner of District 11A, at the Class A Region II tournament in the second of two semifinal matches to be played Friday at Weatherford High School.
The f irst game is between Gorman (22-6) and No. 7 Thrall (30- 9) and will start at 5 p.m. Milano and Lindsay will hit the court at 7 p.m.
The t wo w inners w ill face off at 2 p.m. Saturday with the champion headed to the UIL State Volleyball Tournament on Nov. 21-23 at Garland ISD’s Curtis Culwell Center.
Thrall was co-champions with Milano in District 16A.
“Milano hasn’t had the honor of playing in the regional tournament in eight years,” said Milano Coach Wendy King. “The girls are very excited and for these players who most don’t even remember our last tournament team, they have made this a goal and I say to them job well done and I am very proud of them.”
Mi la no has not been to a regional tournament since 2005, the year when they eventually won a silver medal at the state tourney.
The Lady Eagles are in their 14th consecutive postseason appearance in King’s 20th year at the helm.
Milano had reached the regional quarterfinals twice since its state tourney run (2002-2005), including last season when they lost to state semifinals Cayuga.
The Lady Eagles swept the Lady Cats 25-18, 25-18, 25-11 to advance to the next round.
Kernes (25-5-1) jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first set behind the strength of junior middle hitter Brianna Baxter. The Lady Eagles remained calm and tied things up at 4-4.
Milano kept the lead until Baxter rotated back around to the front row and pushed her team to a 15-14 lead.
Baxter had eight kills and five blocks on the night.
The Lady Eagles then used Kernes mistakes to once again take the lead and the set.
”I watched them last week and knew their blocks would give us heck and it did,” King said. “ The girls played determined and didn’t get down when Kerens’ big hitters hit a few hard balls or when we got blocked. We played one point at a time.”
In t he se c ond f ra me, t he teams were point for point until midway through when Milano went with its go-to girl junior outside hitter Myka Morehead. She led the team in kills Tuesday night with 20.
The Lady Eagles were finally able to put that game away with smart play by Halle McManess and Keely LaGrone.
“ Halle threw in some tips and Keely hammered a couple of balls that helped us balance the net and tried to keep them honest a little,” King said.
“ They had trouble handling the ball and I knew overall we were better players, but their athleticism was of concern. Our plan was to keep our serves in and keep the ball going over. I feel like we did a good job of that.”
In the final set, Kerens was plagued by mistakes, not all there own fault.
“We got a few breaks on line calls, but over the years I have had my share of those too,” King added.
Morehead also had seven digs and one block. McManess added four kills and five digs, with LaGrone putting down four kills and three digs.
Cashly ne Bla ke put up 13 assists, three digs and one ace. Megan Pendergrass had nine assists, one kill and one dig. Naomi Graham added five digs and four assists. Kelly Wadlington pulled out six digs.
Milano advanced to the game with Kerens after sweeping District 16winnerKopperlinthe area round of the playoffs on Thursday at Waco University High School.
The Lady Eagles won 25-15, 25-15, 25-11.
Coach King noted the serving of LaGrone as a spark for the team in the Kopperl game. Of the 75 service points Miano tallied, LaGrone served 22 of them. She also had four digs, one kill and one ace.
Morehead had 19 kills and seven digs, followed by Halle McManess with seven kills, 12 digs and one ace. Wadlington recorded 10 digs.
Blake tallied 16 assists, seven digs and one kill. Graham had six digs, four assists and one block. Pendergrass added four assists and one dig.