Milford girls volleyball returns to D-II final four

MILFORD – Milford is back in the final four.

The fourth-seeded Spartans advanced in the Division II girls vol­leyball tournament with a 25-11, 25-17, 25-18 quar­terfinal win over fifth-seeded Kingswood on Saturday night.

The Knights narrowed the gap in each set, but the Spartans’ long-scor­ing runs – led by Olivia Rougeau (14 kills, two blocks, four aces) and Han­na Hembrow (22 assists, three kills, one block) – proved to be too much.

Kingswood appeared to be in rhythm to start the first game, jumping out to a 3-0 lead before Milford’s Casey Covell (three kills, 17 digs, five aces) righted the ship with a barrage of accurate serves.

Milford collectively went on an 11-2 run to take a comfortable 12-4 lead before coasting to the 25-11 victory.

Game 2 followed a simi­lar script with Kingswood jumping out to a 5-1 lead before Rougeau answered the bell. Milford was able to score eight consecutive points on her hard serves to take a 9-7 lead. King­swood tied the game at 10- 10 before Milford was able to bottle up the Knights’ serves. From the halfway mark of the second game, Milford never allowed consecutive points to ulti­mately win 25-17.

Game 3 of the match was a much more com­petitive affair. The only stretch run of the match was again led by Rougeau, as the Spartans scored five times before being stopped. The rest of the game was a battle, as the teams continuously exchanged points to a 17- 16 Milford lead.

With another stretch run to the finish, Milford grabbed a 24-16 lead. One point away from elimina­tion, the Knights fought hard and cut it to within six before a wayward vol­ley fell to the floor and Milford was celebrating a three-game sweep.

Isabelle Philbrick (four kills, one block), Maddy Wheeler (three kills, 15 digs, two aces) and Olivia Blanchet (nine digs, two aces) also played well in the win for Milford, which faces top-seeded Gilford in the semifinals.

It’s a rematch of last season’s semifinal. Since Milford won that meet­ing, Gilford has only lost one game of all the sets played this fall.