DULUTH - Entering the state tournament with 20 wins in its previous 22 games, it's easy to see why Parkview coach Catherine Zidow was expecting a Final Four run in the Class AAAAA state volleyball tournament.
But an ankle injury to middle hitter Lauren Coleman in the first round Saturday at Northview rattled the Panthers, who went on the beat Collins Hill 3-0 (25-13, 25-15, 25-15). But the Panthers lacked focus in a 3-0 (25-15, 25-19, 25-23) loss to Milton in the second round.
"Her injury shook us up," Zidow said. "It's not an excuse, but we weren't consistent (against Milton)."
Down 1-0, Parkview was tied 5-5 in the second game when Milton broke open the game with a 10-0 run. The Panthers did make a run at the end of the game, scoring five straight points to close to within 24-19 before Milton put the game away. Parkview was never more than three points behind in the third game. Down 18-15, Parkview rallied to tie the game at 20-20, fell behind 24-21 and staved off two match points before Milton won on a dink.
"I absolutely think we could have won," Zidow said. "But I don't think that was the best we could play. Our consistency wasn't there and we weren't focused like we should have been. It took us a while to pick up on the speed of their game."
It was not the ending Zidow had hoped for her seniors. Audrey Hipple, the 8-AAAAA Player of the Year, had 13 kills in the two matches Saturday, and Amanda France had 10 kills. Libero Jordan Flanagan had 34 digs, while Libby Wilkens had 18 assists. Jillian Oates registered two aces.
"(The Milton) setter dominated us; she was the difference in the game," Zidow said. "It was her against the seven of us. She was in the perfect place every time and made the right plays at the right time all day."
Parkview 34-14, entered the tournament as the Area 8-AAAAA champion for the second straight season. Milton came in as the No. 3 seed from Area 6-AAAAA. The two teams had never met, but had Dacula as a common opponent. Parkview beat Dacula in the region final while Dacula beat Milton during the season.
Milton drew Kell in the quarterfinals Saturday, a team Parkview had beaten earlier in the season.
"We had our eyes on the prize," Zidow said. "I didn't think we would be going home at this point."