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VOLLEYBALL: Stevenson outlasts Chippewa Valley TOUT VIDEO

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The decision two years ago to make Regan Miller a setter for Stevenson's volleyball team continues to look like a stroke of genius.

Miller was outstanding Thursday night in helping the Titans began defense of their Macomb Area Conference White Division title with a 25-21, 25-17, 25-22 victory against Chippewa Valley.

"Regan is our captain and the one who makes everything go," said coach Paul Drdul. "She definitely goes all out. You never question her heart and determination. Those last two plays (setting up kills by Jessica Dailey and Brittany Morrison) really saved us.

"They weren't pretty plays but they kept us from getting an error. I thought she set really well tonight."

Stevenson finished off the third game with three straight points, including the kill by Morrison that ended it, and on two of them, Miller had to go after the ball to make the sets.

"That's my favorite part," she said with a smile. "I like getting them out of the net -- but only when it works. When it doesn't work, I just look dumb. Some are more over the net than others so they're easier to bring back. On the others, you know it's just not going to happen."

Miller had been a hitter as a freshman and the first half of her sophomore year at Stevenson, but the Titans were going to need a setter the next season and Miller turned out to be the perfect choice to grow into the role.

"I really like it," she said. "You're part of every play."

Miller finished with 15 assists, two blocks, three kills and six digs. Many of her assists went to Dailey, who led Stevenson with 10 kills in 15 attacks. She also had nine blocks.

"Whenever Jessica's up at the net I can count on her to get a good swing and kill it," Miller said. "That's why I set her whenever I can."

One of the things Drdul is looking for is more offense and he might have found that in the third game.

"Adriana (Dostine) and Brittany (Morrison) stepped up as outside hitters and did a good job," he said. "I was proud of them."

Stevenson came out strong in the first game and led 18-9, but Chippewa Valley closed the gap to 22-21 after a string of five points, including three ace serves by Sheridan Wood. The Titans got the last three points, one on a kill by Emma Puzzuoli, to wrap up the game.

Stevenson pulled away midway through the second game, scoring nine straight points to take an 18-8 lead. Miller had two aces and Dailey contributed two kills to the run.

The Big Reds stayed with the Titans through the entire third game until Stevenson broke the 22-all deadlock with the kills by Dailey, Miller and Morrison.

"We started off a little slow," said Chippewa Valley coach Melissa Criteser. "If we had started with the energy and momentum we had in the third game the outcome of the first two games would have been closer -- and maybe in our favor."

This is Criteser's first season coaching in the MAC White, so she's not as familiar with the teams in that division as she was in the MAC Red where she coached Fraser for several years.

"Absolutely more scouting," she said of the preparation for the division matches. "I've seen (MAC White teams) at the Macomb County Kickoff. When you're in a tournament and we're both playing at the same time, it's hard to really see what's going on.

"I had to trust what we had going into this match and not adjust to what (Stevenson) had. Now that I've seen them and know what their capabilities are, we can improve our game the next time we see them."

Chippewa Valley has seven sophomores on the team and many of them play key roles for the Big Reds.

"We're really good at scrambling," Criteser said. "We get a lot of balls up on our side that a lot of teams wouldn't play for or get up. It's executing the easy plays that has given us trouble. We have to make sure we take advantage of the easy passes and the free balls and score points then and there. That's something we have to work on."

Criteser is enjoying her first season coaching at her alma mater.

"I love it," she said. "There are a lot of traditions I want to carry over with them. I'm excited for the season. So far, it's been a good start."

Drdul would like to see more consistency from his team as it bids for a third straight MAC White crown.

"Jessica Dailey really hits the ball well, but we need a No. 2 and No. 3 hitter we can go to," he said. "We have players who do it in practice, so I'm sure they'll be fine in the games. We have to take care of some small details that will make us a better team overall. Our serve-receive was good tonight.

"I'd like to see us serve a little more aggressive. We didn't have as many aces as usual but that's a tribute to what Chippewa Valley was doing. Getting more consistency is the big thing now."

Other statistical leaders for Stevenson were Puzzuoli with five kills, one block, one ace and eight digs; Corinne Herrmann with eight digs, seven serve receptions and five service points; and Kirstie Peck with 14 receptions, an ace and 27 digs.

Wood led Chippewa Valley with 20 digs, six kills and five aces. Sophomores Haley Oleson and Sydney Reed also did well. Reed had 12 digs, six kills and two blocks, while Oleson contributed 14 digs and two aces.

Last Updated: 9/12/2013 11:37:06 PM EST