By Kevin Eickman
In four years time, the Milford girls volleyball team has continued to improve. This season the improvement is more evident than ever. Hosting Sussex Tech this past Tuesday, Milford gave the visiting Ravens all they could handle. The Buccaneers came as close as you can to winning a match without actually accomplishing it.
In the fifth game of the five set thriller, Milford actually had the chance to win the match as they served with a 14-11 lead. Senior Patty Delva had the opportunity to serve for match, but Tech was able to get the point and the serve that goes with it. The Ravens took advantage of the opportunity as they converted the next four serves into points, thereby securing the game and with it a 3-2 match victory
“This was a real tough match to lose,” coach Pat Darlin commented. “At the same time, to be as competitive as we were against Tech shows just how far this team has come.”
Talking with Darlin following the game, it is obvious that she is very proud with the effort that this year’s squad is putting in “The girls have been working so hard, it’s just fantastic to coach them,” Darling said. “Most of these girls have been here from the beginning and to see them being competitive against teams that used to beat them so badly is impressive.”
The more noticeable area of improvement has been in the Buccaneers’ overall position play; mistakes that were commonplace in the past are much less prevalent. “The knowledge level of the players is much improved, the positional play that we are seeing has been very good,” Darlin stated. While the number of players in the rotation has been a bit limited, Darlin believes it has accelerated the learning curve. “The fact that the number of girls we have playing is a bit low, it has served to develop the skills of the players at a very fast rate.”
Since many of the starting players are in their fourth season playing volleyball, Darlin says it is an aspect of the team she enjoys. “The senior leadership on this team is tremendous, they are always talking to each other, making sure everyone knows their responsibilities and where they are supposed to be,” Darlin stated.
With a 3-4 record to this point, Milford will be trying to achieve their first winning season and Darlin believes that this team has what it takes to make that happen. “It would be quite an accomplishment for this team to finish at .500 or better,” Darlin said. “The girls have the talent and skill to make that happen, it is a goal we have for this year.”