HOSCHTON --It wasn't the ideal start to the Class AAAAAA state tournament.
Mill Creek's volleyball team, on its home floor, fell behind eighth-ranked Lambert 11-3 early and eventually lost the first game. But the fifth-ranked Hawks recovered very well.
Bouncing back from the early hole, Mill Creek eliminated the Longhorns 21-25, 25-22, 25-19, 26-24 and advanced to a second-round meeting with the Roswell-East Coweta winner.
"We were flat to start," Mill Creek coach Brian Williamson said. "We played OK. We can play a ton better. We have to play better if we want to win the next round. We got down, but that's the signature of this team. If we get down, no matter how far we're down, we always find a way to come back."
With the help of a vocal home crowd, the inspired Hawks pulled out the second game and won the third game convincingly after jumping out to a big lead.
The fourth game was more hotly contested and had a bit of a crazy finish. Up 24-22, Mill Creek appeared to get the game-winning point on a block that sent the players into celebration and saw the Longhorns turn away in dejection, thinking their season was over.
But it was ruled that a Mill Creek player touched the net, giving Lambert (29-15) new life. The Hawks mishandled the ensuing serve, tying the match at 24.
Mill Creek (42-10) answered back, though, scoring two straight points to finish off the match.
Emily Wylie had 18 kills and three blocks for the victors, Audrey Hoffman had 13 kills and 4.5 blocks, Kaitlyn Lattimer had 30 assists, Carley Eiken had 13 assists and Brittany Moore added 13 digs.
Cayla Graham also played well with 12 kills and 12 digs.
"Cayla was fantastic all around," Williamson said. "The team played awesome, but Cayla Graham was everywhere. It seemed like she was in every play."