Road warriors: Milton High volleyball team forced to hit the road

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John Barry
Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Badger South Conference girls volleyball schedule changes dramatically this season.

Instead of the standard 12-game round-robin conference schedule, the seven teams in the Badger South will only play each other once during the regular season. A conference tournament will conclude the season, and that could cost schools as many as four home matches.

The new format left Milton High with only five conference and nonconference home matches for the entire season.

Now that number could fall to two.

Milton High’s 45-year-old gymnasium floor is being replaced after a fill tank from the school’s swimming pool overfilled earlier this month and warped the floor, destroying nearly one-third of it. The volleyball team is currently practicing in the school’s auxiliary gym, but that facility is not big enough or set up to host varsity and junior varsity matches. The earliest the team can likely return to the main gym is the first week of October.

“It is what it is,” Milton volleyball coach Wayne Hansen said. “There’s not much we can do about it, but it’s too bad. It has forced us to move two home matches against our rivals to their place.”

Milton, which finished second in the Badger South a year ago with a 9-3 record, was scheduled to host Fort Atkinson this Thursday and defending conference champion Madison Edgewood on Sept. 19.

Hansen was hoping to move the Fort Atkinson and Edgewood matches to a neutral site—either Janesville Craig or Janesville Parker—but scheduling conflicts made it too difficult.

Milton High Athletic Director Brian Hammil knows timing is everything. And in this case, the repairs couldn’t have come at worse time.

“The first thing I want everyone to know is that the volleyball staff has been great to deal with through all of this,” Hammil said. “That makes this whole process a little easier.

“This is a major inconvenience, however, especially for the volleyball program. They’ve basically had to go from a normal practice schedule to a winter schedule where they’re practicing at night sometimes and in a very crowded and small gym.”

The cost of replacing the gym floor is estimated at $100,000, with the district forced to pay a $1,000 deductible. The new floor will have moisture sensors.

Although the Red Hawks will spend most of the season on the road, Hansen said the new conference format for volleyball is a good one.

“I really pushed for the conference tournament along with a couple of other coaches, and we finally got it passed for this year,” Hansen said. “It allows us to play in four or five more invitationals this year, and that’s where you can really improve as a team because you’re playing a lot more games against good competition.”

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