Millbrook High School’s volleyball team got to know its opponent for today’s Class C state championship match in its last two games of semifinal pool play at Glens Falls Civic Center on Saturday.
Eden swept Millbrook 25-15, 25-8 to close pool play with a perfect 6-0 record, but Millbrook coach Shawn Stoliker admitted afterward that his team used those games to test things out after already clinching a berth in today’s noon final.
“We went with a totally different game plan to see if that’s something we might want to use (today),” Stoliker said. “I know the scores didn’t look pretty and the games didn’t look pretty, but we didn’t do our game plan. We didn’t have a game plan. We went and did some stuff. It was just to get a look.”
Section 6’s Eden has won four straight state titles, the last two in Class C after a pair in Class B. The Raiders have won six state titles in the last seven years, and have a strong mix of hitting, defense, net play and serving.
“We’re coming up with a game plan, so that’s what we’ll be doing tonight,” said Millbrook setter Meredith Dignan, who had 28 assists, five kills and four aces over the six games. “We’ve got some homework.”
Millbrook is looking to become the first team from Dutchess County to win a state volleyball championship since the tournament started in 1990. Audrey Ouimet added to Millbrook’s attack with 12 kills over the six games, while Brittany Keenan had four kills, seven aces and four blocks, and Cassie Weaver had eight kills and 11 digs.
“We decided to do something completely different, so that way (Eden) will be blindsided (today),” said Millbrook libero Amanda Critelli, who had 21 digs and four aces. “We’re not lethal with the hit, but we’re very smart with the placement. We didn’t do that against Eden. We just swung and put the ball down … or tried.”
The Blazers went 4-2 in pool play, opening the morning by sweeping Section 2’s Voorheesville 25-15, 25-14.
In the first game, Millbrook scored the first six points and eventually led 11-5. Taking advantage of great communication, originating at the setter and libero positions by Dignan and Critelli, Millbrook went up by as many as 13 points.
Voorheesville made errors in the second game and Millbrook capitalized. Up 11-8, Millbrook rattled off five straight points and never let the Blackbirds closer than five points.
“Right from the morning when we woke up, the girls were outside before I was,” Stoliker said. “They didn’t even want to eat breakfast. They just wanted to get here. Right from the beginning with the first serve, they were all about business.”
Millbrook swept Section 11’s Mattituck 25-10, 25-12. The Blazers were never in any real danger as Millbrook had eight of the last nine points in the first game. Millbrook led 20-5 in the second game with its precise serving and hitting running the Tuckers all over the court.
“This is the state Final Four and we came in and we played so relaxed,” Dignan said. “When you play tense, everything goes downhill. Playing loose and confident at the same time is key.”
Millbrook is confident that if it plays its game, it has a fighting chance against the juggernaut Eden.
“We’re going to come out with a positive attitude about the game and play our game,” Critelli said. “Basically just make them move their feet. We’re going to focus and try to disrupt them as much as possible.”