Spikers rally past Choctaw, 3-1

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Sunny Middleton scored the game winning point in the 3-1 win over Choctaw Thursday night. (Photo by Chuck Reherman)

By Chuck Reherman, Sports Editor – Call it a “flair for the dramatic.”

It seems that what the Yukon Millerette volleyball team has.

The Millerettes have been involved in several “dramatic” finishes, and Thursday night was no exception.

YHS staved off a last-ditch rally by Choctaw in the fourth set to pull out a 3-1 win on the Millerettes’ home court.

Yukon won that fourth set 25-23. The Millerettes had won the first set 25-10, the second 25-16, but lost 25-18 in the third.

The Millerettes had a four-point lead and were serving for match point in the fourth set, but saw Choctaw counter to get a side out, then scored two more points and had the lead down to one. On the next serve, Yukon made the volley, Choctaw sent it back over. Sidney Benge’s set to Sunny Middleton in the middle of the floor and she rifled a shot through the middle of the Lady Yellowjacket defense for the game winning point.

“I think this group is trying to stress me out,” Millerette head coach Rachel Allred said with a smile. “For now, we seem to make that last match a dramatic one, but it is a trend we are trying to break.

“We got within game point and we just need to finish,” she said. “We let them get within two points after we got to game point and that is something we need to fix. In the third set set missed seven serves and that is unacceptable. We fixed that in the fourth, but we showed a lot of fight to get back.

“We would have liked to have finished a little easier, but we didn’t get ourselves get down any further after that 11-2 deficit. Of course we would not like to be this close or this dramatic.”

Down 11-2 and after the time out, the Millerettes didn’t panic and came up with big plays on blocks, digging out Choctaw shots and using kills from Benge and Middleton to fight their way back to within a point. 13-12.

“We can’t get those situations and get frustrated,” she said. ‘The attitude shifts on the court and they are no longer focused on what they need to do right, they are just frustrated with themselves and each other. We are trying to chance that mind set.

“We have come back from bigger deficits this season and in previous seasons,” she said. “you have to snap out of it. You have beat them twice, you still have the upper hand and you have to get that confidence back and fix the little things to get it back.”

Down 15-12, the Millerettes got a couple of points off the serve and tied the set at 17-17. YHS regained took their first lead on a kill by Rachel Kittell and scored again to lead 19-17.

Choctaw came back and tied it 20-20,  but the Millerettes went on a four-point run on kills from Middleton and Mallory Scott to take a 24-20 lead.

CHS got back within two, but Middleton scored the game winner off the set from Benge.

“We went into a little bit of survival mode in that fourth set instead of attack mode,” she said. “It’s just trying to stay alive and try to get the ball and we lose sight of being in attack mode. We always want to be in attack mode.

“We talked to them afterward that we have talked as a team that we have to quit being in that survival mode and be in attack mode,” she said. “No matter how many matches, we have to be at full speed all the time.

“We did have better focus in that last set, we were more settled down and didn’t make the little mistakes. We went out with a swing. It wasn’t their mistake that won that last set for us, it was us putting pressure on the ball so it was a good finish for us.”

Middleton led the team with 11 kills, Benge had a season high 10 and Scott eight.

In the junior varsity match, Yukon won in three sets 19-25, 25-17 and 15-11. Choctaw won the freshman match 25-16 and 25-14.

The Millerettes will host Norman in a Central Oklahoma Athletic Conference match on Tuesday and travels to Enid Thursday. Both matches will start at 6 p.m. with the freshman at 4 p.m. and the junior varsity at 5 p.m.