Romeo High defeats Utica Eisenhower, wins regional title

Bulldogs headed to state quarterfinals

By: Alex Tekip | Shelby - Utica News | Published November 12, 2015

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ROMEO—Back-to-back isn’t just a song by Canadian rap artist Drake. It’s also a dream that’s one step closer to becoming reality for the Romeo High volleyball team.

Romeo (44-5-2) defeated Utica Eisenhower (41-13-1) in five sets, 25-21, 25-23, 13-25, 21-25, 15-8,  in a class A regional final at home on Nov. 12, increasing its chance of winning its second consecutive state title.

The Bulldogs didn’t have too much difficulty taking the first set, but struggled to contain Eisenhower’s offense and fell victim to the Eagles strong blocking game at crucial points in the rest of the contest. However, they were still able to pull out the victory. 

“I’m thankful that we pulled it out,” said Romeo coach Stacy Williams. “I wish it would have been a cleaner game for us, but I’m still proud that we didn’t have a letdown, and we’re still walking out with a win.”

Romeo came back from a 22-16 deficit to win the second set, which early on looked like it would be the defining moment of the game. Eisenhower rewrote the story with its victories in the third and fourth set.

Eisenhower coach Caitlin LaPratt said her team’s comeback effort to tie the game at two sets was impressive, despite the outcome of the game. 

“They stuck it out,” LaPratt said. “They played to win. They came to play to win tonight. They didn’t give up that set and pushed through, and that momentum carried us in to the next set.”

Eisenhower had difficulties finding its rhythm in the fifth set, allowing Romeo to seal the win on a kill from Gia Milana.

"Both teams want to pull out that fifth set,” LaPratt said. “We had too many errors to get us through that last set.”

Although the win was a cause for great celebration, Williams said her team has to continue to improve as they approach quarterfinals. 

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you do it (win), as long as you do it. We have an area of concern still, so we’ll get back to practice and go at it like we normally do,” said Williams.

Milana had 41 kills and 21 digs in the contest. Bre Olley was also a key contributor for the Bulldogs, notching 60 assists, 10 digs and six blocks in the win.

Payton Kennedy had 45 assists and 25 blocks for Eisenhower in the loss. Jillian Chambers had 17 kills and 21 digs, and Katie Hayes had 32 digs for the Eagles.

Romeo plays Traverse City West in quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Nov. 17 at Midland Dow.

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