At the beginning of the season volleyball captain Stacey Slate said, “We’ve gotten off to a good start.” At season’s end, that good start turned into a fabulous finish: The girls’ volleyball won the New Englands tournament and ended the regular season with a remarkable 18-1 record.
“The team just really came together as a unit this year,” said Marijke Alsbach, head coach. “Outside hitters Kristina Lingertat (I) and Tiz Mogollon (II), had to hit in order for the team to win. During the tournament, they just kept hitting.
“Even if they made a mistake, we gave it back to them and they hit again,” Alsbach says. The team’s tenacity paid off in the finals.
The New Englands final play was hosted by The Gunnery in Washington, Connecticut. Four teams were invited to the finals: Milton as the no. 1 seed in east, just ahead of Governor Dummer Academy (GDA); The Gunnery was seeded no. 1 in the west, followed by the Berkshire School.
In the first round, Milton swept the Berkshire School 30-14 and 30-12. According to coach Alsbach, the girls served particularly well, and every player contributed to that dramatic win.
Meanwhile, GDA beat The Gunnery: Milton, therefore, played league rival GDA in the finals. In regular season play, GDA beat Milton 2-1 in January. In February, the tide turned and Milton triumphed in two games. In the first round of the Eastern New England Tournament at Milton on February 22, Milton and GDA split the wins (Milton placed third in that contest.); the teams entered New England finals evenly matched.
“Both teams were really excited and playing with adrenaline” . Milton went on a long serving run to clinch the first game 30-23. The second game of the match was the hardest fought: With the score tied 29-29, Tiz Mogollon hit a cross-court kill, and Chrissy Hobbs blocked a winner to triumph 31-29 in game two.
In game three, coach Alsbach said the girls played the best volleyball of the tournament with great passing (Ingrid Festin) and good setting by Stacey Slate and Martha Pitt. They were poised and proceeded to sweep GDA with a 30-21 win in game three to secure the New Englands title.
“With five sophomores on the team, we expected this to be building year,” Coach Alsbach said. “This is pretty exciting stuff.
In volleyball, setters function as a quarterback does in football: they set the stage for scoring. “Our setters Stacey Slate (I), Martha Pitt (III), Laura Will (III) and Amanda Levin (III) really set the tone; they paced the team throughout the year,” Alsbach said. Kristina Lingertat (I) was picked for the All-Eastern New England tournament team.
“Middle hitters Chrissy Hobbs (II), Ingrid Festin (I) and Becky Roberts (III) worked to block opponents hits. Along with Sarah Pulit (III), who served and played defense, these girls also were outstanding.”
Alsbach said that great leadership from senior players, coupled with the energy of next year’s captains, Tiz Mogollon and Chrissy Hobbs, kept the team going. Exceptional support from parents driving great distances to matches also made a difference, she said. “This has been an aggressive, athletic group of people and they wanted to play all the time. Last year’s group was talented, but not as aggressive. This year’s team just wanted to play and win,” Alsbach said.