Hosting the Panthers on Thursday night, the Milton volleyball team came back from a five-point deficit in the second game to take out Oregon 25-16, 25-23, 25-15.
“(It was) probably our best match this year,” head coach Wayne Hansen said. “We passed with precision and Skyler (Salter) and Jordan (Karlen) ran the offense flawlessly. They put our girls in position to make the kills and kept Oregon off balance.”
After a close opening of the first set, reaching 5-5, the Red Hawk offense came alive to pull away to a 12-7 lead before cruising to a 25-16 opening game win.
The second set started the same as the first, reaching 5-5. This time, however, it was the Panthers who broke away, reaching a 15-10 lead. The Panthers held that lead as the Red Hawks slowly chipped it away before teams sat tied 21-21. After trading points to reach 23-23, Milton dug deep to secure two straight points to take the second set to lead 2-0.
Hansen said despite being down in the second set, he wasn’t worried.
“I was actually calm, as I promised not to yell this match,” he said. “Sometimes I get overheated from the same mistakes being made, but tried a calmer approach, and that seems to work better. I called a timeout and let the seniors take over the huddle. We just had to get on a mini-roll ourselves and it worked.”
Unsurprisingly, the Red Hawks cruised to an early lead in the third at 9-3. The Panthers held little resistance as the Red Hawks won the third quickly 25-15 in the 3-0 win.
“I thought the third set would be a breeze because momentum was on our side,” Hansen said. “Oregon’s air came out of their sails when we came back in the second, and we were just too dominant for them.”
Hansen said that both sides of the ball worked well for him.
“Our defense had three girls with double-digit digs with a total of 21 team blocks,” Hansen said. Jordan Karlen and Emma Sullivan each had 14 digs while Chloe Buescher finished with 11.
“Our offense was fast and hard,” Hansen said. “One of our parents overheard Oregon’s huddle, where the girls were telling their coach they didn’t know where the ball was being set, and we were too fast for them to keep up. That is what we have been teaching.”
Buescher led the team in kills with 10, while Ashley Didelot hit eight, Courtney Knutson struck seven. Sullivan hit two aces for the Red Hawks, while Karlen, Satler, Knutson and Cassidy Moe each hit one of their own.
Salter finished with 22 assists, with Karlen adding seven.
Hansen said that he enjoys both straightforward wins as well as close matches.
“It’s two-fold. I like straightforward wins, because I can play everyone,” he said. “I also love close matches because it’s the adrenaline and excitement of putting a team away for the win.”
Hansen said the team — with a week between games — is hitting their high.
“ I just hope we have a good week of practice, I’m going to continue to push them, as I feel we are peaking at our potential right now,” he said. “If we continue to play the way we are, the sky is the limit.”