Long Beach Millikan made its first appearace in the second round of the playoffs in several years on Saturday, traveling to face Orange Lutheran in a Division 3 matchup. Unfortunately their playoff journey would end there after losing in three sets, 25-16, 25-23, 25-20.
The Rams came out strong in the first set but ended up having a huge dropoff and played from behind most of the time. The Paulson sisters sparked the Millikan offense to start the match with a kill by Danielle and an ace by Natalie, but then the Lancers started to build a lead.
Millikan fell behind due to errors and misreads while attempting to block. Elle Lundahl showed great efforts in trying to keep her team alive in this match. She had a team high five kills in the first set and finished the match with thirteen of them, also a team high. Orange Lutheran was able to take advantage of multiple errors made by the Rams and capped off the first set with a kill to go up 1-0 in this match.
The second set saw a different side of Millikan. They made adjustments and were playing neck and neck with the Lancers throughout the entirety of the set. Tied up at 11, Natalie Paulson soared through the air for a kill to put her team up one but they still couldn’t create any separation on the scoreboard.
The biggest their lead would grow to three points as the score read 18-15. However that lead quickly vanished after committing errors, with the Lancers capitalizing on every opportunity. O Lu ended up taking a small lead late in the set, but Aaliyah Fasavalu put the Rams in position to steal a set after she tied it up at 23. The following serve by the Rams floated out of bounds to put them down 24-23. Trying to come up with a stop, Fasavalu got her fingertips on the ball for a block but couldn’t quite get to it and they lost the second set 25-23.
“I think we were able to read their defense a little bit,” said Millikan coach Ashleigh Atsaros. “I think we were putting more balls away and making less errors…It was hard to make adjustments but I feel like we came out the second set and we did.”
The final set saw a mixture of the way they played in the first two. After a controversial early point that ended up being granted to the Lancers, Millikan went down by 10 as they caught themselves trailing 17-7. They made efforts and attempts to claw their way back into the match, but would only get within four before dropping the last set 25-20.
The Lancers were led by Jaedyn Houston with 18 digs, Paige Buzzerio with 15 kills, and Lily Underwood with 23 assists.
Millikan will end their season after having some big moments throughout the year.
“We beat Poly for the first time in forever,” said Atsaros. “We made it past the first round of playoffs since forever, none of my seniors had ever done that. They had some really incredible break through moments and it’s because of the work they put in and just trusted the process every single day.”