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Milford Volleyball Battles Growing Pains

Milford High came into the girls volleyball season with a new league, a new coach, and a largely new roster, so it comes as no surprise that the Scarlet Hawks are dealing with a few struggles at the beginning of the 2012 season.
"It has been a bit of a shaky start, not exactly what Milford is used to," said first-year head coach Meredith Purtell. "Coming off last season and taking over for Linda (Zacchilli), it's hard not to put some pressure on the girls and on myself."
Purtell is leaning on a few players, particularly senior captain Nikee Reed, to provide a stabilizing presence on the court. "I see how much potential they have," said Purtell. "But we struggle with being in and out of focus. We have one senior captain (Reed) with a lot of varsity experience and there are moments when we have the momentum but then struggle with being inconsistent."
Milford lost its first two matches of the season to Taunton and Algonquin, both at home. In each match, the Scarlet Hawks came out slow and lost lopsided opening games. They came back stronger as the matches progressed, losing to Algonquin Monday 25-13, 25-21, 25-20. "We have gotten stronger later in the match," said Purtell. "It can be tough because the girls are thinking about wins and losses, but I am just thinking about us getting better and holding our own."
Purtell has gotten a few pleasant surprises so far this season, including junior outside hitter Andrea Swanson. "Andrea played a strong match against Algonquin, she didn't have a single error the whole day," said Purtell. "She was strong in the back row and here energy was consistently up the whole game. She is one of my most emotional players but she was able to stay even keel."
Giovanna Arcudi has also been an early bright spot for MHS. She had 14 digs against Algonquin and handled 25 passes on target for the Hawks. Sophomore Kayla Gilliat has also stood out as a defensive specialist, but the head coach looks to her veterans for leadership and stability.
"I expect a lot out of Nikee (Reed) and Giovanna because they are the only two who consistently play the entire game," said Purtell. "They are both very vocal and loud and, if they are on, can keep the rhythm of the entire team going which makes a huge difference."
Purtell feels her team will continue to grow despite the pressure to succeed. "I think we are getting the nerves out, but I feel I am seeing more of the calm, cool, collected attitude and I am hoping we can handle the schedule moving forward," she said. "I am learning as I am going, they are leaning, and I just want to make sure it remains fun but that we are also working towards the goal of winning and doing well."




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