By Kevin Eickman
The Milford volleyball team is nothing if not gritty, in a season that has seen coach Shawn Snyder’s young team start off with an 0-9 start. The Milford girls volleyball team has stayed with it, demonstrating a competitive spirit all season long. The hard work has begun to pay off for the Bucs, as over the last five games Milford has posted a 3-2 record.
The Bucs posted their first win of the season on October 8 with a road victory at Woodbridge. The game was a 3-2 victory with Milford taking the deciding game by a score of 15-9. During the match, Milford freshman Madison Rogers recorded five kills and five assists, as she continues to improve along with the rest of the Milford team. “Madison Rogers was a big difference maker for us this year, commented Snyder. “She is a freshman, but has played like an older player. She plays club ball and plays all six spots for us. She led the team in kills and serve receive percentage. She is also a really great all around kid”
While Milford would fall to a 12-0 Polytech team on October 10, they would waste little time getting their act together as they hosted Howard on October 14. The game featured a straight set victory for Milford, as they proved to themselves they have what it takes to come back from a tough loss. The game featured a pair of Buccaneers stepping up, as sophomore’s Erica McCrea and Xionishka recorded five kills each during the match. Xionishka (Zee) has been a key contributor for Milford all season long. “In one match Zee played all six positions over four sets, and she kept us competitive in the match while doing it,” stated Snyder.
Milford recorded their third victory of the season just this past Thursday, recording another 3-0 victory. This time they traveled to Seaford to defeat the Blue Jays. While Snyder’s team has never got down on themselves, he knows that victories can do a great deal to help a young team’s confidence. “Psychologically, it is huge. I read a lot about sports psychology and psychology of groups. You can’t underestimate how important belief is in sports,” Snyder continued “Until they got that first win, they really had a hard time visualizing and expecting success. The core of the team returned from last year and went 0-15, so when we lost our first 9 games, there was a sense of ‘here we go again’ among the girls.”
The fact that this team managed to stay together, and finally start on the wining path took a lot of work on the part of all involved. “We did a lot of team building exercises, had team dinners, went to a UD volleyball game as a team, to try to build the culture to overcome this,” stated Snyder. “It took longer than I thought it would, but they are starting to turn the corner. We certainly feel like the culture is changing in a positive direction both on the varsity and JV teams.”
There have been some other players that have been improving their games as well, along the way helping this Milford squad improve. Junior Patricia Delva has been the setter for the Buccaneers in her first season on Varsity. “She is a junior, so I think she could really open some eyes in the conference as a senior. She is strong and fast, as she gains experience the sky is the limit for her,” Snyder said.
Another player who has stood out for the Bucs has been junior Corinne Bogan, who along with Zee has been a versatile player on this team. “They both have played every position at different times, filling in for injured players or players struggling in matches.” Snyder stated. Milford will play their final game of the season on Tuesday, as they travel to Lake Forest. The game is set to begin at 5 pm.