Millbrook notches 1st district win

Posted: October 16, 2013

Special to The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Millbrook and Skyline headed into their Northwestern District volleyball match Tuesday with something in common that neither wanted to continue.

Neither team had won a Northwestern District match.

The Pioneers however, won’t be able to say that anymore, sweeping the Hawks 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-11) behind a strong night at the net by Millbrook hitter Taylor Linder.

The Pioneer sophomore dominated play at the net in all three sets, finishing with 16 kills.

“It feels really good to get the win,” Millbrook coach Ashley Sutphin said. “But I thought that both teams played strong and it was a nice match to play. I thought that the difference in the match was that our girls came into the match with a lot of confidence and I thought that really helped.”

That confidence was tested early as things didn’t look promising for Millbrook (3-8, 1-3 Northwestern) at the beginning of the first two sets. Thanks to kills by Sarah Dodge and Jenny Norman and a service error by the Pioneers, the Hawks (6-8, 0-5) jumped ahead 4-1 in the opening set.

Millbrook slowly narrowed Skyline’s lead through the next eight exchanges and Pioneer hitter Imani Major stepped to the service line with Millbrook holding a narrow 9-7 lead.

“I really don’t think that we were playing our best at the beginning of the match,” Linder said. “We just looked at the situation and starting pulling together after that. We all had confidence in each other and there was no second guessing. We stuck with each other.”

Six exchanges later Major, thanks to five straight miscues by the Hawks and a block by Millbrook hitter Ashley Humphrey, the Pioneers sophomore gave up the serve with Millbrook owning a comfortable 14-8 advantage.

The Pioneer run effectively put Skyline in a hole that it couldn’t overcome. Major finished off the Hawks with her second kill of the set.

Linder, however, was the key offensive weapon for the Pioneers, nailing four kills during the set, and it was a modest beginning for what was to come.

“We were really talking to each other and helping set each other up,” Linder said. “We’ve been working really hard on the basics, and fundamentals. I thought that really helped tonight.”

After a come-from-behind win in the opening set, it looked like Millbrook had found the touch needed to overpower the Hawks. Skyline hitter Lauren Moore had other ideas though, and after opening the second set with four straight aces, the Hawk senior pushed Skyline to a 4-0 lead.

“After falling behind we worked hard to maintain our confidence,” Sutphin said. “It worked out and we were able to pull both of them out.”

Again, Millbrook didn’t panic and slowly got back into the set, tying things 7-7 when a Hawk return fell short.

Things stayed close until late in the set when Linder again made her presence felt, scoring three of her six kills for the set in the final 10 exchanges to lead her Pioneers to a narrow two-point victory.

After coming from behind twice, Millbrook’s resilient play seemed to unnerve Skyline and the final set was never close.

The Pioneers, thank to a pair of kills by Linder and an ace by Cheyenne Jankiewicz, jumped ahead 5-0, and extended that lead to 11-1. Linder was again the primary offensive weapon for Millbrook, hammering home seven kills in the final set. She also scored on an ace, scoring as many points as the entire Skyline team in the third set.

“That particular rotation worked really well,” Sutphin said. “And Taylor did a great job of finishing things.”

Pioneer hitter Monica Stopha got the set and match-winner with a kill, her third of the match.

The Hawks were led by Moore, who finished the night with five kills and five aces. All but two of her points, however, came in the second set.

“This was very disappointing,” Hawks coach Lesley Detweiler said. “I’m not sure where our heads were tonight. I really don’t think that we really gave up on anything, it was just matter of who wanted the win most. I think tonight Millbrook played like they wanted the win more, and it showed on the court.”

Humphrey added five kills and a block, and Major had four kills and an ace for the Pioneers.