Lady Buffs upend VI in home opener

  By Seth Butler
  STAR Correspondent

  The home opener for the Milligan College Lady Buffs (4-4, 3-2) was a rousing success as they played host to Appalachian Athletic Conference foe, the Virginia Intermont College Lady Cobras (2-5, 2-4), at Steve Lacy Fieldhouse on Tuesday evening.
  The Lady Buffs wasted no time in dispatching the Lady Cobras, three sets to none, thanks in part to the play of freshman Jamie Sly, whose game-high 33 assists on Tuesday played a vital role in setting up scoring opportunities for her teammates.
  "It was very much a team effort, and everyone got to see playing time," said Milligan College head coach Kim Hyatt. "We really worked a lot on blocking, and harder hitting and serving this week.
  "The defense is really stepping up, and giving us some good play. All in all it is a really good team effort tonight. I cannot complain about this tonight. I am very happy with the results."
  The Lady Buffs jumped out early on Virginia Intermont, grabbing an early 9-5 lead in the opening set, forcing the Lady Cobras to call timeout to regroup.
  However, Milligan eventually opened up a 23-18 lead, before seeing Virginia Intermont battle back to take a 25-24 lead behind the serving of freshman Jessica Forsythe.
  However, momentum swung back in the favor of the Lady Buffs when Tennessee High product Tara Earhart ended the Lady Cobras run with a big kill, which led to a 6-1 Milligan run to take the set 30-26.
  "Yeah, I think we just had to feel the court out, and feel their team out," said Hyatt of her squad's performance near the mid-point of the first set. "A lot of times we will come out in the first game, and get a little behind and then we will pick it up after we get a sense of what they are doing. And get rebuilt on offense and defense. So it starts out a little slow sometimes, but we tend to pick up at the end."
  The lone Milligan senior, Lindsey Wetherholt, set the tone of the second set at the outset, as she served three consecutive points, including one of her team-leading three aces in the contest.
  The Lady Buffs raced out to an early 16-8 lead in the set behind the play of Wetherholt and Beth Snapp. The domination continued seeing Milligan pick up a double-digit lead in the set with a 25-12 advantage, before taking a 30-19 victory in the set.
  The Lady Cobras made sure that Milligan would not be able to walk away with an easy three sets to none victory, as they challenged the Lady Buffs in a see-saw third set.
  However the play of Earhart was the deciding advantage for Milligan in this set. Earhart won seven points near the halfway point of the set, bringing the Lady Buffs back from a two-point deficit to grab a 16-15 lead.
  Then Earhart took over the contest with her serving, as Milligan scored six consecutive points, including an ace by Earhart, to pull away from Virginia Intermont with a 23-17 lead late in the set, as Milligan would take the third and final set 30-24.
  "Earhart moved from the side, to the middle this year, and she's made the move well," said Hyatt of her sophomore standout. 'She played both in high school, and is a hard hitter for us, and is a big factor in the middle."
  Individual leaders for Milligan included Wetherholt with three aces, Snapp with 13 digs, and Amanda Hyder with 15 kills.
  Also of note, before the game Sly was honored as she earned Appalachian Athletic Conference and Regional Setter of the Week honors for her outstanding efforts last week. The former two time All-State selection at Page High School (Franklin) contributed 192 assists as the Lady Buffs went 2-2 a week ago.
  Milligan will continue play Appalachian Athletic Conference as they host Bluefield College (1-5, 0-3) on Thursday evening. Action will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Steve Lacy Fieldhouse.