Milledgeville downs AFC in three sets in NUIC East opener
MILLEDGEVILLE – Fast starts in Games 1 and 3 sent junior-dominated Milledgeville to a three-game, conference-opening win over Ashton-Franklin Center on Tuesday night.
The Missiles rode junior Kayleigh Leddy's eight-kill performance to a 25-22, 19-25, 25-12 Northwest Upstate Illini East victory over the inexperienced Raiders in a sauna-like Milledgeville gym.
"In Game 3 we played better defense," said Leddy, one of six junior starters for the Missiles. "We got down and covered our hitters a lot better than we did in the second game. We came out strong, then we fell behind. But, my team got back up."
"We came back in that third game and showed how we really can play," first-year Missiles coach Jody Mertz said. "That's the team that I know right there."
Milledgeville (2-1, 1-0 NUIC East) took immediate control, jumping in front 9-3 thanks mostly to four quick kills by Leddy.
AFC (1-2, 0-1) fought back, eventually taking its only lead of the game at 20-19.
The Missiles closed the game with a 6-2 flurry that included a kill by junior Emily Geison, who had five, and an ace by junior Kendra Schave.
Milledgeville also started well in Game 2, taking a 7-4 lead. The Raiders responded with a 12-2 tear to go up 16-9. Senior Emily Mammen had two kills and junior Marissa Asbury two aces to highlight the burst.
The Missiles got within two, 17-15, after an ace by Geison. But, AFC answered with a 6-2 run, going up 23-17 on a kill by freshman Cassidy Koning before the Raiders closed the game moments later.
Milledgeville left little doubt in Game 3, jetting in front 13-4. Moments later it was 19-6, and the Missiles were on cruise control.
Leddy knocked down three more kills in the game, while Schave and junior Morgan Adolph added two apiece.
"The heat was a big factor. It made us tired," said AFC's Sarah Matson, who had a team-high six kills. "When you get down, it's hard to get back up."
Longtime Raiders coach Jan Cupp was pleased with her inexperienced team's effort.
"We're a team that's growing," Cupp said. "I had no returning starters. That makes a big difference. It's going to come together. Hopefully it will come together soon."
Star of the match: Kayleigh Leddy, Milledgeville, match-high 8 kills
Key performers: Sarah Matson, AFC, team-high 6 kills, 2 aces; Emily Geison, Milledgeville, 5 kills, 3 blocks, 2 aces
Up next: Polo at AFC, 6 p.m. Thursday; Milledgeville at Byron Tourney, 9 a.m. Saturday