With starting setter Jordan Karlen sidelined with an injury, Milton head coach Wayne Hansen needed one of his girls to step up Thursday night.
Luckily, Hansen had a pretty good backup plan.
Junior setter Emily Davis recorded a team-high 33 assists as the fourth-seeded Milton defeated 12th-seeded Madison La Follette 26-24, 26-24, 21-25, 25-20, in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal match at Milton High.
“I think Emily Davis, my backup setter, did a great job tonight,” Hansen said. “She got my game ball tonight. She ran the offense as best as she could for filling in.
“Stepping in for Jordan is tough to do.”
Davis and the Red Hawks jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first set, but La Follette answered back with three straight points. The Lancers earned their first lead of the match at 11-10.
Later, the Lancers scored six of the next seven points to go up 20-16, forcing a Red Hawks timeout.
La Follette came out of the break with an ace and eventually got within a point of a first-set victory up 24-22.
Milton staved off two set points, including one on a diving dig by Noelle Washkoviak and another on an Abbey Falk ace. Junior Nora Stuckey gave the Red Hawks a 25-24 advantage with a kill, and a hitting error by the Lancers ended the first set.
“That (first set) was huge,” Hansen said. “I thought we were going to dig ourselves a hole.”
Milton almost found itself on the other end of a late-set comeback in the second. The Red Hawks built a 23-18 advantage, but a 5-0 La Follette run knotted the set at 23-23. But a Falk kill and a couple Lancer errors helped Milton seal a 26-24 win.
The Lancers picked up their lone set win in the third, but the Red Hawks closed out the match in the fourth with a 25-20 victory.
“We came back strong,” Hansen said. “We served a lot better.”
Falk took advantage of Davis’ strong night with 17 kills. On the defensive end, junior Juliet Karlen collected 15 digs.
The Red Hawks will host Badger South Conference foe Fort Atkinson in a regional final match Saturday in Milton at 7 p.m.
MILTON 3, LA FOLLETTE 1
Madison La Follette 24 24 25 20
Milton 26 26 21 25
Milton leaders: Kills—Falk 17. Assists—Davis 33. Digs—Karlen 15. Aces—Weberpal 4. Blocks—Stuckey 1.