Milton coach insists volleyball team will be back here again’
Yet after the Red Hawks were swept, 25-16, 25-11, 25-20, by top-ranked powerhouse Burlington in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal on Thursday at Lake Geneva Badger, Milton coach Wayne Hansen was adamant that this wasn’t merely an isolated foray for his squad amongst some of the state’s more decorated programs.
“We’ll be back here again,” Hansen said. “I guarantee you that.”
There’s little reason to doubt that guarantee, considering the Red Hawks will return key players like sophomore outside hitter Lauren Streets, junior middle blockers Allie Schullo and Morgan Blumer and junior setter Katie Soddy for next season.
That group led Milton to a 29-4 record this season, which included a Badger South Conference title and the program’s first regional championship since 1998.
Yet the Red Hawks were slotted into the fifth seed in a sectional that featured Burlington, ranked first in the Wisconsin Volleyball Coaches Association Division 1 state poll and seeking its third straight state tournament appearance, five-time state champion Westosha Central and Kenosha Tremper, which won it all in 2008.
Not an easy road.
“This is real tough,” Hansen said of the sectional. “We go (almost) undefeated for a year and win a bunch of tournaments, and we’re seeded five. So how do you figure that?”
That seeding earned a sectional semifinal date with the powerful Demons (41-9), who will face third-seeded Tremper on Saturday in the sectional final at Burlington. Tremper defeated Westosha Central, 25-21, 25-23, 25-13, in the other semifinal game Thursday.
Junior outside hitter Ciara Capezio, a University of Minnesota recruit who’s playing with a partial meniscus tear, is Burlington’s sparkplug. The knee didn’t seem to bother Capezio on Thursday, as she tallied a match-high 17 kills, including a string of three straight in the first game as Burlington pulled away.
Milton trailed just 8-7 in the second game, but Burlington broke it open with a 9-1 spurt to grab a 17-9 advantage. Hansen specifically credited the play of Burlington libero Morganne Longoria, who saved a number of Milton kill attempts that would have likely points against a different opponent.
But Hansen also felt the Red Hawks didn’t play up to their capability.
“The way we played all year, we didn’t play our game,” he said. “We couldn’t give them a better game. That’s what I’m disappointed for.”
Milton certainly didn’t quit in the third game, however, rallying to tie it at 14-14 before the Demons finished it off.
Streets led the Red Hawks with five kills for the match. Schullo and Blumer each added three, and Soddy tallied 18 assists.
“We made our goals,” Hansen said of the Red Hawks’ season. “All this was icing on the cake. We wanted to move one; (it would’ve been) great. If we (didn’t), we’re still happy. It’s a good year.”
BURLINGTON 3, MILTON 0
Burlington 25 25 25
Milton 16 11 20
Burlington: Aces—Sam Webb, 2. Kills—Ciara Capezio, 17. Blocks—Shebeneck, 5. Assists—Kaysie Shebeneck, 24.
Milton: Aces—None. Kills—Lauren Streets, 5. Blocks—Kasey Mylin, 1; Allie Schullo, 1 1. Assists—Katie Soddy, 18.
KENOSHA TREMPER 3, WESTOSHA CENTRAL 0
Kenosha Tremper 25 25 25
Westosha Central 21 23 13
Leaders: Kills—Jenna Jehlicka (WC) 7, Lauren Hickson (WC) 5; Carley Gross (KT) 12, Emily Kmiec (KT) 7. Aces—Brooke Hartnell (KT) 1. Assists—Lauren Hickson (WC) 10, Nicole Schultz (KT) 29. Digs—Danielle Rampert (WC) 15.