The Milbank Area Lady Bulldog volleyball team punched their ticket to the State Class A tournament. They achieved a 3-1 victory over Miller in the Sweet 16 tournament Thursday, November 10, in White. The win lifts the team record to 19-6 heading into state.
The Lady Bulldogs are the number six seed heading into the state tournament and will face the number three seeded Bon Homme. The teams will be featured in the first game of the night session Thursday, November 17, at 6 p.m. in the Watertown Civic Arena. Watch The Valley Express for the complete schedule and lineup of matches for the state tournament.
Milbank Area and Miller battled for each and every point throughout all four sets. The lead teetered back and forth all night in the race to the finish. In the first set, the Lady Bulldogs trailed early 9-6 before going on a five point run to overtake the lead at 11-10. The score inched up slowly point-by-point until Caryssa Mielitz dropped in two consecutive aces to give Milbank Area the 18-15 advantage. Miller came back to even the score up at 18-18. The teams traded points until the Lady Bulldogs pushed ahead again at 23-21. Mielitz belted out a kill to come within one point of the win at 24-21. Miller then ended the set with a hitting error, and the Lady Bulldogs took a sigh of relief with the 25-21 win.
Things remained very evenly matched throughout the second set. Milbank Area again trailed early at 7-3. The locals pulled to within one point, before Miller surged ahead at 15-11. The Lady Bulldogs kept plugging away and went on a five point run to knot the score up at 16-16 with kills by Mielitz and Molly Rick, errors by Miller and an ace by Rick. The tight match continued with Miller belting out two kills to go up 18-16, but Mielitz pounded down two of her own to again even the match at 18-18. A three-point run by Milbank Area gave the Lady Bulldogs the 21-18 lead, but Miller quickly tied the score again at 22-22. Mielitz found the open floor with a kill to go ahead 23-22. Miller hit the ball into the net which gave Milbank Area the 24-22 lead. Mikaela Hoeke secured the second set win at 25-22 with a final ace, which helped the locals begin to feel confident.
Once again, the teams teetered back and forth throughout the third set. Milbank Area held the early 10-6 lead, but struggled to maintain it and fell behind 19-17 late in the set. Miller then took advantage of a hole in the middle of the Lady Bulldogs floor and surged ahead 23-18. The Lady Bulldogs kept fighting, but could not overcome the deficit and fell 25-19.
The teams continued to keep the fans on the edges of their seats in the fourth set. Milbank Area jumped out to an early 9-7 advantage. The Lady Bulldogs then came up with a huge eight-point run to widen the gap to 17-7. The scored continued in Milbank Area’s favor to 20-10. With the fans on their feats, the Lady Bulldogs, led by Mielitz, surged ahead and secured the 25-10 victory, sending them to the state tournament for the second consecutive season.
Mielitz led the locals with 23 kills on 46-53 hitting, four aces on 11-11 serving, 14 digs and one block. Rick followed with 14 kills on 31-38 hitting, one ace on 18-20 serving, 9-9 setting, 28 digs and two blocks. M. Hoeke tallied four kills on 22-24 hitting, two aces on 10-11 serving, 32 assists on 63-65 setting, 12 digs and one block. Jaecy Engebretson added one kill on 21-22 hitting, three aces on 18-18 serving, two assists on 6-6 setting and seven digs while Mac Schuelke had eight assists on 49-49 setting, three aces on 20-20 serving and 16 digs.
Others contributing to the win for Milbank Area were Madi Schulte, one assist on 5-5 setting and five digs; Jaden Hoeke, one assist on 6-7 setting and 3-4 hitting; Maty Lightfield, one assist on 4-4 setting, 10-10 serving and 11 digs; Gabbi Cummins, four kills on 5-5 hitting and two digs; LaChasity Finley, two kills on 5-6 hitting, and Mady Hilbrands, one kill.