The Milaca volleyball team will have a much different look this season on the court. After graduating a handful of impact players from last year’s section quarterfinal team, many new Wolves will be seeing their first bit of playing time at the varsity level.
The first match, a 3-1 loss to Little Falls on Oct. 8, presented some positives for the youthful Wolves while also demonstrating what the team will need to improve upon to return to last season’s form.
Milaca, with many players making their varsity debut, did not play like a young team in their first set taking it to the Flyers with a 25-13 win.
Head Coach James Taylor said Little Falls was playing nervous while the Wolves were playing as they practiced. “They got their first game jitters and we didn’t have those jitters. We did everything that first game like we had done in practice. We served in, we served tough and we didn’t have hitting errors, that right there in a bottle is what we want to do all season,” he said.
Little Falls found its footing in the next set as Milaca started to make those unforced errors leading to easy points for the Flyers. “We started off the second game missing serves, hitting out of bounds, pretty much did the things Little Falls was doing the first game, giving them points and we never really got that confidence back,” Taylor said.
Little Falls won the set 25-16 and would follow it up with a 25-11 and 25-20 showings to take the match.
Macy Mach wasn’t discouraged by the performance the Wolves displayed in the loss. “I think that we did really good for a lot of people never playing varsity,” she said.
Mach played well picking up 25 assists in the contest to go along with six digs. She was aided by Mae Concannon with her 11 kills for the contest.
With there being a jump for skill level for many of the young Wolves, another challenge added is length of matches said Taylor. “This is the first time they have to win three out of five matches. It a long match with a lot of adjustments being made. It’s definitely a learning experience,” he said. Junior varsity and junior high only play three sets.
Another added challenge to Milaca is the lack of high-level play before entering conference play. COVID-19 has caused the Wolves to only play Granite Ridge opponents.
Jumping right into conference play isn’t ideal for the Wolves, but Taylor hopes Milaca can quickly learn before they face some of the tougher opponents in the conference. “Usually we come into the first conference game with a tournament, a scrimmage or two and maybe a nonconference game. Our conference is brutal, so we need that warm up time before we see the Cathedrals, the Albanys and the Foleys. The faster they learn the better things will be,” Taylor said.
Heading into the week, Milaca played Pierz on Oct. 8 followed by a trip to Albany two days later. Mach has a couple goals set for the team going into the two games. “We have to stay focused and stay positive,” she said.