Milioto slams winning kill as Rebels top STA in thriller

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 2, 2009



RESERVE – The last time Riverside had met St. Thomas Aquinas on the volleyball floor, the teams engaged in a five-game thriller decided by an improbable Rebel comeback in the bi-district round of the Division IV playoffs.

Sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Thursday’s rematch between the two lived up to the previous standard set between the teams. Riverside shook off a 21-9 fourth game deficit to force a deciding fifth game, which it secured for a for a 21-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-22, 15-13 victory in Reserve.

Kristy Milioto’s kill in the fifth game wrapped up the 15th and clinching point after a seemingly endless volley back and forth between the teams, and the Rebels went on to celebrate yet another improbable victory over the Falcons.

“That’s been a little bit of a rivalry,” said Riverside’s Kaitlyn Millet, who block for a point gave her team a 14-12 lead in the fifth game. “We’ve always played them in tough, exciting games. We’ve been so up and down this year, on such a roller coaster, it was good to finally finish.”

Riverside (9-10) fell in close matches to second ranked De La Salle and seventh ranked Dunham last week. Third ranked STA represented the Rebels’ third upper tier Division IV opponent in less than two weeks – any could represent potential playoff previews.

After dropping the third game of the match, Riverside was ice cold to begin the fourth. The Falcons jumped out to a 12-4 lead, and eventually pushed that advantage to 21-9.

At that point, Hebert looked to her bench for a spark.

“I just felt like we were going through the motions,” said Hebert. “I ripped some kids off the bench and hoped they’d spark us, and they did an exceptional job.”

Then the Rebels went to work, starting with a tip by Taylor Terrio – one of those subs — for a point to make it 21-10. A kill by Shea LaFountain cut the lead to 21-13. Riverside scored the next three points before STA’s Caroline Crother slammed a kill to make it 22-16.

But that would be the final score of the game for the Falcons. LaFountain delivered another spike to make it 22-17. An ace by Shelby Deslatte made it 22-19. A trio of Falcon spike attempts went too long, tying the game up.

The Rebels had seized all the momentum, and LaFountain converted those into points. Her three consecutive kills ended the game, the final one falling just in bounds and allowing Riverside to fight again.

The momentum carried over into the fifth game. Milioto started things off with a kill, then STA’s issues with return errors continued with a shot out of bounds and into the net. A Milioto ace made it 6-1, and RA would lead 7-1 before the Falcons answered via a Brooke Balser kill and a Crother block.

Riverside scored the next point, but STA scored the next three, highlighted by an ace and a kill by Balser. LaFountain’s kill made it 9-7, but Buie’s dink answered. Milioto slammed home her second kill of the game to make it 11-8, but STA scored the next three points to tie the game at 11.

Millet’s kill put RA ahead again. The teams exchanged errors before Millet again came through with a block to make it 14-12. Balser nailed down a kill to give STA a final breath, but Milioto came through for the next point – the third time was the charm for her, after two returned spike attempts during the exchange.

It was vindication for the junior, who was one of the starters who Hebert herded to the bench during the fourth game.

“When I was benched, I realized I had to step up and work for my team,” said Milioto, who described the feeling she had after the final point as “awesome”.

Hebert was impressed by her resolve.

“My big hitter, she struggled and struggled,” said Hebert. “She came out in that fifth game though and really showed up when we needed her.”

LaFountain racked up 19 kills and 29 digs for Riverside. Millet had 12 assists, while Kelsi Roussel added 10. Terrio had three aces.

Balser led STA in kills with 17 and in aces with three. Madison Crossie had 25 assists. Buie had eight blocks.

Hebert said she sympathized with those on the Falcon side.

“You hate to see someone lose like that. I thought they played well, like we did, and both teams played hard,” said Hebert.

“But I’m also glad it wasn’t me this time. We’ve been on that end enough times, lately.”

REBELS TOP HOSANNA CHRISTIAN, WIN ONE AT TOURNEY – The Rebels traveled to Hosanna Christian on Tuesday and rallied to come away with a victory after falling behind by a game. RA won a 22-25, 25-18, 25-15, 25-12 decision.

LaFountain had 15 kills for the Rebels. Millet had 10 assists. Roussel had nine. Deslatte had 30 digs. Megan Malik had five blocks.

Riverside also took part in the St. Jude’s tournament at Dutchtown this past weekend and won one of three matches.

RA defeated Redemptorist, 23-25, 25-10, 19-17. The Rebels fell to Northlake Christian, 25-11, 25-13, and to Bonnabel, 25-17, 25-17.