NEWBURGH – The Millbrook High School volleyball team walked out of the locker room in high spirits.
The top-seeded Blazers had pep in their step, singing “You’re The One That I Want” from the movie “Grease.” They had every reason to celebrate after their 25-22, 25-20, 25-15 victory over third-seeded Rhinebeck to win the Section 9 Class C championship at Mount Saint Mary College on Sunday.
Belting out tunes is what has kept the team loose. Which in turn, led to another section title for Millbrook.
“We sing because it keeps our head in the game and keeps us focused,” said Kayla Gusikoff, the Blazers lone senior. “We just find the greatest songs to sing. I love it.”
Here's how Millbrook won: pic.twitter.com/7X2yW2jfZM— A.J. Martelli (@AJ_Martelli) November 7, 2016
Millbrook is now up against the chorus known as Pawling in the Class C regional semifinals. The Blazers will take on the Tigers on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at SUNY Ulster.
“We’re going to play our game,” Gusikoff said of the regional semifinals. “That team is just any other team, and the way we’re playing recently, we’re unstoppable.”
On the other hand, Millbrook coach Shawn Stoliker expects a battle with Pawling — the team the Blazers beat in last year’s regional final. Pawling defeated Dobbs Ferry in the Section 1 final.
“(The section title) is the first step,” Stoliker said. “Hopefully, we’ll continue to loosen up and get ready for the next step. This should be an incredible match on Tuesday with a good, solid team. So we’re looking forward to it.”
“Loose” being the operative word.
Gusikoff sang to the tune of 30 assists, two kills, five aces and five digs against the Hawks in the section final. She was backed by Sam McKenna, who had 17 kills, six aces and seven digs. Erin Fox had nine kills, while Hailee Pezze had five aces and three kills.
Stoliker liked that his team executed its game plan.
“Our goal today was to serve tough,” said the coach, whose team improved to 12-1. “And that’s definitely what won it for us today. We were very aggressive with the serve and finished with a good amount of aces.”
Rhinebeck struggled to generate offense, falling behind in each game.
Hawks coach Ashley Gerace said her team played hard, although she understood beforehand that the Blazers were going to present a test.
“We knew coming in Millbrook was going to be a huge, huge challenge for us,” Gerace said. “Millbrook’s a really smart team, does a great job with power tips and finding our holes.”
Gerace added that her team had some serving errors, and had her team been able to decrease those mistakes, the match may have been closer.
Likewise, Stoliker thought his team made a few mistakes. Still, he was pleased with the effort.
“We struggled a little bit on the offensive side,” he said, “But besides that, I was happy with the performance.”
A.J. Martelli: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports