Lady Buffs drop final home match

Photo by Dave Boyd
Milligan outside hitter Joy Dobbs goes up high for a shot at the net.

By Marvin Birchfield
In its final home game of the season, Milligan's volleyball team was unable to make a comeback against conference rival UVa-Wise in a 3-1 final.
The Lady Buffaloes dropped the first two sets and made a rally in the third, but the Lady Cavaliers stepped up their play towards the end of the fourth set to squeak out a 30-28 victory.
"We're not putting the ball away or making the big plays we need to make to take the game in the set," said Milligan Coach Kim Hyatt. "We need to just start working together, and I'm hoping we'll start peaking come tournament time."
Milligan's seniors were honored in their last appearance at Steve Lacy Fieldhouse, as it was Myra O'Dell and Theresa Butler's final chance to enjoy playing at home.
"It was a tough game and we really wanted to win so we could finish third in our conference," said O'Dell. "It would have given us a boost, but it was our last home game and I'm glad we played it well."
It was a hard-fought battle in the first set, with neither team willing to fall into the clutches of defeat. However, a couple of plays at the net gave Wise a 37-35 victory.
Milligan held a slim advantage through the first part of the contest, with Joy Dobbs and Lindsey Weatherholt both connecting on kills to build a three-point lead.
The Cavaliers then went on a 5-0 run, with three scores coming off the serve from Davina Dishner.
Milligan bounced back to outscore Wise 7-1, taking a 20-19 lead off a set by senior O'Dell for the kill from Dobbs.
"We played well as a team and scrappy at times trying to not let the balls fall no matter what, so I'm proud of our effort," said O'Dell.
The game flip-flopped back and forth in the final stage, with neither team being able to get the second point needed.
After a tap to the open area by Allison Langrel tied the contest at 35-35, the Cavaliers executed two straight kills to come away with the close victory.
"I told them whoever wins that first set will keep the momentum through the whole match, and we were kind of ahead of them after winning that first game," said UVa-Wise coach Kim Mathes.
The Buffaloes didn't quite seem to have the same intensity in their second outing, as they were defeated in a 30-22 final.
The Cavaliers went on a 14-3 run early in the contest, which Milligan never recovered from.
Wise grabbed a 19-10 lead after a couple of missed opportunities at the net went against the Buffaloes.
"We've got some injuries and people out of position so it's tough right now, but I think mentally we're OK. We have three more tough matches and the Maryville tournament," said Hyatt.
Milligan cut the deficit to six points late in the game, but a kill coming from Nikki Jessee ended the set.
"I think if we had pulled out that first game, then we would have played better in the second one," said O'Dell. "I think we went from a high in the first game to a letdown, and we shouldn't have let that happen."
The Buffaloes came back to take the third set, after clinging onto an early advantage, to score a 30-26 win.
"I think if we could have won that first set then we could have taken them just because of momentum wise," said Hyatt. "It was a big letdown even though you don't want to say it, but you can tell after they thought they were going to win," said Hyatt.
A set from O'Dell and kill by Weatherholt in the corner gave the Buffaloes a 13-8 lead, after Milligan went on an 11-3 run.
Wise made up the deficit with a kill by Jessica Cain and a hit out of bounds by Weatherholt, but the Buffaloes battled their way to a victory toward the end of the set.
A kill by Amanda Caldwell off a set from Dianne Sooter gave Milligan a four-point advantage and Dobbs finished the game by a hit at the net.
In the final set of the night, the game came down to the wire with Wise slipping past in a 30-28 final.
Milligan grabbed an early 6-5 lead, with a power-dink coming from Morgan Hyatt.
It looked like the Buffaloes were in control after making a 6-0 run with a dump from O'Dell to start the spurt.
A block at the net by Dobbs increased the Milligan advantage to 23-18, but the Cavaliers stormed back with two consecutive kills by Kate Daub pulling within one.
"We knew we didn't want to go with them a fifth game when they're at home, because it's always a tough short game," said Mathes. "With home court advantage you have to be able to finish it in the fourth, and we were tied and had some crucial plays to pull it off."
Wise outscored Milligan 6-2 in the final stretch, as the game ended on a hit from Sara Stanley.
Milligan falls to 9-22 on the season and 7-9 in conference play, while Wise improves to 10-9 in the conference.
"I'm sad with this being my last home game, but I'm still looking forward to the tournament. It's not over yet," said O'Dell.