The Millbrook volleyball team might as well have “no-quit attitude” imprinted on its uniforms.

The Pioneers defeated Blacksburg 3-2 in a hard-fought Class 4 state quarterfinal match on Saturday at Blacksburg High School. The set scores were 26-24, 24-26, 28-26, 13-25, 15-13.

Millbrook (23-2) now earns a rematch with Loudoun County (24-2) in Tuesday’s Class 4 semifinals at 6 p.m. in Leesburg. The Captains — who beat Western Albemarle 25-15, 25-16 and 25-17 on Friday in the quarters — beat Millbrook 18-25, 25-13, 25-16, 25-17 on Nov. 4 at Millbrook in the Region 4C title match.

The Pioneers rallied from a 19-12 deficit in winning the first set against Region 4D champion Blacksburg (15-6) and finished the match with a 10-2 run after trailing 11-5 in the fifth set.

“I can’t say enough about how they played together as a team at the end,” Millbrook coach Carla Milton said in a phone interview on Sunday. “They didn’t let a ball drop. They just kept working hard to take it one point at a time and to get themselves back in that game.”

Following a timeout, the Pioneers scored eight straight points in the fifth set, seven while Madelyn White (21 kills, 15 digs) was serving, to take a 13-11 lead. Milton said she believes Blacksburg came back to tie the fifth set at 13, but then the Pioneers scored the last two points to close it out.

Millbrook has fought back to win challenging matches with teams like Sherando, James Wood, and most recently, Dominion in the Region 4C semifinals when the Pioneers were down 2-1 in sets and faced a match point in the fifth set.

But Milton said Saturday’s match required particularly significant resolve on the part of the Pioneers.

“I would say this game was probably the one where we had to dig the deepest to win,” Milton said. “The first three sets were back-and-forth. It was touch-and-go. They would have a little bit of a lead, we would come back a little bit, they would go ahead, we’d come back.

“And then at the end, they were four points from winning the match. But we dug deep.”

Milton said winning the first set in the manner that Millbrook did was also big for the team.

“You’re playing on [Blacksburg’s] home court, we traveled three hours on a bus to get there,” Milton said. “Both teams are kind of feeling each other out about what the other one can do and can’t do. It’s good to know the traveling didn’t get to us and we had the fight in us.”

Millbrook also was led by Taylor Weiss (20 kills, 12 digs); Ariel Helmick (16 kills, 13 digs); Madison Koeller (50 assists, 11 digs, four blocks); and Autumn Stroop (30 digs).

Now, the Pioneers get another crack on taking on the standard for volleyball in Class 4. Loudoun County has won nine straight state titles.

“We started in early August and we’re playing in the last week possible for the season to go, and you can’t ask for anything else,” Milton said. “We’ve got a good opportunity in front of us. Loudoun County’s a great team. We’re going to have to up our game, for sure.

“But at this point in time, we’ve got a chance. You’ve got to take it, do what you can, and see what happens.”

— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at

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