The Scarlet Hawks won the first two sets of the match for the third straight game, but unlike their loss to King Philip last week, Milford was able to finish off Franklin to get a 3-1 win.
Milford took a thrilling first set, 29-27, and followed with an impressive 25-15 win in the second set. Franklin rallied to win the third set, 25-21, giving the visitors a bit of momentum.
“We started off a little slow but then we got on track,” Milford head coach Linda Zacchilli said. “I thought we played pretty decent games one and two but momentum can shift. We just didn’t play in that third game and the momentum was with them. Once you let a team take the third game, they believe they can win and it’s harder to win it yourself. I tried to reinforce that.”
Last week, KP won the third set in similar fashion (25-17) and used that momentum to go on and win the fourth and final set to get the win.
Zacchilli and Milford weren’t going to let that happen again, the lesson had been learned.
“But to be able to put it all together in game four was good,” Zacchilli said. “We’re a work in progress till, we have a long way to go. but as long as keep making improvements, we’ll be OK. Once we settled into this game, we started passing the ball and we looked good.”
Franklin battled back from a 24-20 deficit in the first set to force a seesaw affair but Lauren Zouranjian’s ace finally gave the Scarlet Hawks the win 29-27.
It was all Milford in the second set, racing out to a 8-2 lead following an ace from Jane Schuler, and kills from Stefani Chiarelli and Kelley Reichert. The Scarlet Hawks built a double-digit lead at 20-10 off an ace from Ally Zagami and went up 24-10 when Zagami registered two more aces. Franklin rallied for five straight points but Milford took the set 25-15.
The Panthers raced out to a 4-0 lead in the fourth game, a cushion that they kept the rest of the way. Franklin went up 24-16 before Milford rallied for five straight points to try and get back in it, but sophomore Maggie Doyle earned the set point with a kill for the Panthers.
Milford took care of business in the fourth set, slowly building a four point lead (9-5). The Scarlet Hawks really put things out of reach for Franklin with a 17-5 run, highlighted by kills from Kate Lobisser, Chiarelli and the final one from Reichert to get the win, 25-13.
“The big step was not letting that third game carry into the fourth,” Zacchilli said. “We were dominant but then we had difficulty passing the ball. But the kids rallied. After we dominated in game two, they dominated in game three. We needed to put on the brakes and stop their momentum, we need to be the ones to step up and the kids rose to the occasion. That’s something we didn’t do a week ago so I look at it as a successful thing.”
Reichert finished with a team-high 11 kills while Chiarelli had nine kills and Zagami had seven. Zagami (four aces) also led the Scarlet Hawks with 17 digs while Kyra Alves had 14 digs, and Allie Collins (18 assists) had 13 digs.
“We had some players really step up too,” Zacchilli said. “I thought Chiarelli probably had her best game, both Zagami and Reichert, they were very steady for us on the outside and in backcourt defense. They really did a nice job passing and serving, they both served tough.
“I think overall, in the end, it was a real team effort. We didn’t force the ball anywhere, all of the kinds swung, they all had some success.”
Erin Skidmore had six kills and a pair of aces for the Panthers, Maggie Doyle added six kills and Meghan Maguire had three kills and four blocks.
“We missed an awful lot of serves. I think we missed six or seven [in the first game] and you can’t do that,” Franklin head coach Kate Horsmann said. “We’re really young and I think the second game, if we had won the first set, it might have carried us through that second set. I think it’s disappointing for us but I don’t think it’s unexpected, that’s kind of what you see from young players. This was our first away match and we have five sophomores who are playing a lot. I thought when we played well we played really well. Milford was a good team today, they beat us. I’m not going to make any excuses, they were good.”