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MHS Volleyball Stays Positive Through Ups & Downs
It isn't a secret, not to head coach Meredith Purtell or anyone on the Milford High School girls' volleyball team. More than halfway through the season, the Scarlet Hawks were still without their first win. That does not stop the coach from seeing the silver linings. "It is definitely a season of highs and lows, but I have to say I see a lot of improvement and there have not been too many times where I have been disappointed in our effort," said Purtell.
Milford has made improvements through the season despite playing in a new league against unfamiliar opponents. Aside from a non-league match against Algonquin, Purtell has had to rely on statistics and scouting to get a sense of her competition. "It has been one of the frustrating parts of the season, I don't have the familiarity with who we are playing," she said. "But I feel like, for going into the games somewhat blind, the girls have a positive attitude."
Purtell is also happy with the way her team has been able to change course on the fly during a match. "The biggest growth I see is making the adjustments when I bring them in for timeouts," she said. "Whether it is switching from one setter to two or needing an extra blocker at a different part of the floor, they take what is said and make the adjustment. They are also starting to look ahead during a match and see where our weaknesses are and where they might start attacking us next and say 'this is how we are going to adjust.'"
Two players have been particularly important in keeping Milford poised and upbeat through the difficult season, senior captain Nikee Reed and junior captain Giovanna Arcudi.
"Nikee has no fear, and her confidence makes the team confident, I never take her off the court," said Purtell, who often runs a two-setter offense to allow Reed to both set and hit as she excels in both areas. "She is one of our strongest all-around offensive players because she is so aggressive."
Purtell points out Reed's analytical nature can lead to her getting frustrated at times when she is not playing her best. She made her Arcudi, her libero, a captain due to her strong play and positive influence on the court.
"She is our best passer and second most aggressive server, and she does a great job keeping the team together and focused," said Purtell of Arcudi. "No matter what the score is, she is our strongest voice out there."
Milford will not see an opponent for the second time until matching up with Canton on Monday. Purtell is hoping her team's ability to adjust will continue with being able to learn from past games when they play those same teams again. While getting the first win on the season is a goal, it is not the only thing the Scarlet Hawks have on their mind.
"We definitely want to win, I want them to want it hard enough to work for it but I don't want them to focus on it," said Purtell. "I want them to focus on being aggressive and be ready to win each point. If we make mistakes, I want them to be aggressive, go out swinging rather than ducking away from the moment and trying to give the ball to someone else. Those are the things I want them to take away from the season."




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