By Chris Chaney
Now in his sixth year at Milford, Brian Croston is looking to solidify his Eagles as one of the top public school boy’s volleyball programs in the area. One way to do it: win a lot of matches.
That’s exactly what Milford has done to kick off their 2013 season.
“It’s been a good year so far, we’re (4)-1,” Croston said. “We won our first match away over Purcell Marian and won it in straight sets (25-12, 25-7, 26-24). Then this past weekend, we went to Middleton for a quad and took two out of three.”
The Eagles kept rolling on Monday, April 8 with another straight-sets victory over Loveland, 25-21, 25-10, 25-13.
A team that gained experience over the past two years, winning sectional tournament games, returns a solid core of talent that Croston believes can develop into one of the top teams in the area.
“We have two starting setters, Ben Perez and Nick Burgess, who play all the way around,” Croston said. “We play what’s called a 6-2, so both of them are in there all the time.”
The Eagles early-season form has pleasantly surprised Croston as Milford has proven themselves to be a stellar passing team, something their coach believes can only help them as they develop and earn more in-game experience.
“We’re a really good passing team, the best I’ve seen in my six years at Milford,” said Croston. “Our hitting has room for improvement, but that comes with having players who are new to the game. A lot of guys are still figuring things out and will improve at hitting.
“The fact that we can pass and give ourselves a chance to hit is huge.”
The Eagles lost four players from the 2012 team to graduation and only return four from that team as well as three others who have moved up from JV. Croston has the program trending the right direction through five games and he hopes to continue that upward march.
Aside from his two senior setters, a third senior, Josh Roof, is seeing significant playing time and is playing all the way around also. Roof is a 6-foot senior who plays middle hitter.
From there, Croston is leaning on underclassmen mostly to shoulder the load.
“I have two outside hitters who are doing well, Nick Warwavesyn and Michael Swensen,” Croston said. “We have a libero named Harry Saverse who’s only a sophomore.”
The Eagles are exceeding expectations so far this season, flying out of the gate to get to 4-1 on the young season. Croston hopes that the team can build on the early success and sustain it through the end of the season.
“Expectations for this season are that we want to finish above .500,” the coach said. “We’ve already beat one (Greater Catholic League) school (Purcell), and it would be nice to beat another private school. I want us to be known as one of the best public school teams in the area.”
Although only a week into their season, the Eagles have already played about a quarter of their schedule, which spans from April 3 to May 9. The first round of the tournament is tentatively scheduled for May 11, in which the Eagles have enjoyed some success in the recent past.
However, Croston is weary about how far the team can make it in the tournament, given that more often than not, they would have to face one of the “Big Four” GCL teams in the second round (Moeller, Elder, St. Xavier and La Salle).
Already proving themselves as a difficult beat, the Eagles will continue to grow as they play an eclectic schedule that includes games against Mason, Chaminade Julienne, Lakota East and Princeton, among others.
Milford played Monroe on Wednesday night and then have a few days off until they host Mason and Princeton next week.