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Milnick leads No. 16 Shamrocks over Antelope
Leave it to a freshman to end up taking over Senior Night.
Yuma Catholic freshman outside hitter Amanda Milnick was a force in the Shamrocks' final home game of the season, which turned into a 25-13, 25-11, 25-19 sweep over Antelope on Tuesday night.
Milnick finished with 13 kills from several thunderous attacks and 13 aces for the Shamrocks, who wore pink uniforms for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“Through the course of the year she's hit the ball well but tonight she was on a different level,” Yuma Catholic coach Maris Grasis said. “It was really fun to watch her.”
Yuma Catholic senior outside hitter Kalaina Barnett had nine kills, sophomore middle blocker Sophie Edwards had six kills and seven aces and junior setter Chelsey Mendenhall had 32 assists, including many that ended with a kill by Milnick.
“She has a wicked arm on her and when she's on, she's on,” Mendenhall said of the freshman. “And she likes the sets tight to the net and low and those are easy for me. Her hits were phenomenal tonight.”
“The feeling of it and how the ball was on my hands, I was hitting the sweet spot most of the time,” said Milnick, who Grasis said has been dealing with a shoulder injury and is finally getting healthy.
The sweep over Antelope (7-9) was only the second match in 18 days for the Shamrocks, who moved into the top 16 of Arizona Interscholastic Association Division IV Power Points on Tuesday afternoon. The match before their win over the Rams was a sweep of Gila Bend on Oct. 16.
If there was any rust for the Shamrocks, they didn't show it Tuesday. Yuma Catholic jumped out early and often against the Rams, who the Shamrocks also swept in Antelope on Sept. 20. Milnick gave the Shamrocks their first double-digit lead with an ace to make it 16-6 and then finished off the first set with a kill.
Milnick had her most dominant stretch in the second set, when the Shamrocks went on an 8-0 run to take a 10-2 lead — thanks to five aces by the freshman. She picked up another kill to boost the Shamrocks' late lead to 20-8, and Yuma Catholic middle blocker Darci McCallister came up with a kill near the center of the net to give them a 25-11 win in the second game.
The Shamrocks battled their way out of an early 5-1 hole and kept a comfortable lead the entire third game — a Barnett kill put them up 24-15. However, Antelope battled back and rattled off four straight points before the Shamrocks finally took the match and ended Antelope's season.
“To be honest, we made a lot of growth,” Antelope coach James Jones said. “As a team, as individuals. The character got better as a team, the teamwork got better as a team, their skills got better. Everything got better.”
“Being a rival game, emotions take into play,” Grasis said. “Antelope has some girls that are really good but I think tonight we were just on top of our game,”
The Shamrocks play their regular season finale at 6 p.m. today at River Valley, which Yuma Catholic swept on Sept. 27. Grasis said that considering the two teams ahead of them — No. 14 Tanque Verde and No. 15 Tombstone — don't have any more games during the regular season, the Shamrocks could potentially jump up a few spots because of the win over the Rams and if they beat River Valley.
And the Shamrocks squad that showed up Tuesday night looked like a team getting ready for the state playoffs.
“We've been working on communication and today everybody was on, so those are one of the lucky days,” Mendenhall said. “Hopefully, we get to the point where we don't need any lucky days.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson.