Milford’s young talent leads team to strong start in the ECC

The Lady Eagles’ Rachael Sullivan prepares to hit one of her league-leading 114 kills in a game against Glen Este on Sept. 13.

The Lady Eagles’ Rachael Sullivan prepares to hit one of her league-leading 114 kills in a game against Glen Este on Sept. 13.
Entering their inaugural season in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference, the Milford Lady Eagles girls’ volleyball team makes up for what they may lack in experience with pure talent.

“We have a really talented team this year, but we also have a really young team,” head coach Lauren Cooper said. “We only have two seniors, so with having the younger girls on the team, the talent we have is really good and that’s what’s making us so successful.”

Opening the season with an 8-4 record, the Lady Eagles are right in the mix of the very competitive ECC standings. Currently 3-2 in conference, Milford finds themselves in a four-way tie for the best record in the league with Kings, Loveland and Turpin. Anderson, Glen Este and Walnut Hills round out the rest of the teams in the league, but the parity is shown by different teams being able to defeat one another on any given day.

“Our league is crazy,” Cooper said. “It’s one of those leagues where you never know what’s going to happen. It’s already been interesting so far.”

A little more than half way through their 2012 campaign, the Eagles have seen a couple of big-time players emerge as burgeoning stars.

“The team works really hard together, they are very bonded and that helps us a lot knowing that our main focus is making sure we’re doing everything as a team and not as individuals,” Cooper said. “They are really catching on to that, which, again, is what is making us so successful.”

Within that team dynamic, however, there are some individuals who have proven their worth to the team, most notably the three captains, Rachael Sullivan, Madison Taggert and Beatrice Craycraft.

Sullivan, a 6-foot senior, plays right outside hitter for the Lady Eagles and she has been dominating opponents with her power this season. Through the first 12 matches, Sullivan is leading the ECC in kills with 114, averaging 3.08 per game.

Taggert, the middle blocker for the Lady Eagles, has 23 blocks so far in her junior season. Craycraft, the other senior on the team aside from Sullivan, plays libero and acts as the defensive leader. Craycraft has 147 digs on the year, which ranks second in the conference.

While these three captains are the lifeblood of the Lady Eagles, Cooper pointed out a pleasant surprise coming up within the ranks.

“Another big standout for us this year is our sophomore setter (Rachel Danahy),” Cooper said. “She’s never really been a setter, we just turned her into one because she’s really tall and has really nice hands and it’s been working out really well for us.”

Danahy leads the league in assists with 326, which is more than 130 more than the nearest competitor.

Other strong role players for the Lady Eagles include Lauren Moeller, Rachel Greene, Grace Brown and Anna Anbalagan.

With 10 matches remaining, Cooper hopes that the team doesn’t get too ahead of themselves and gives each opponent their full attention.

“Our main goal is to take each team one day at a time,” she said. “We need to focus at practice on that one team that we’re going to play next. We keep reiterating to the girls that there is no letting up, especially because this conference is so competitive.”

The Lady Eagles will play seven of their 10 games against conference opponents, including all three of the teams that they currently share the league’s top spot with, meaning that they control their own destiny.

Milford will be in action next on Thursday, Sept. 20 against Turpin at 7 p.m.