By Marty Gordon NRVsports@ourvalley.org
Dynasty is one word that can now be used in the conversation about Auburn High School volleyball. Saturday afternoon, the Sherry Millirons-led Eagles arrived back in Riner with a police and fire escort as hundreds of screaming fans stood along Route 8 and the entrance into the school.
Just hours before, the Eagles had claimed their third straight state title by taking down Riverheads in three sets 25-8, 25-10 25-9 at the Salem Civic Center. The win stretched the team’s state-record unbeaten streak to 74 matches.
The individual statistics were also pretty impressive. Auburn’s Allyson Martin had 20 kills, 12 digs, three assists, and two aces, Anna McGuire add 34 assists, four digs, and two aces, Avery Zuckerwar finished with 10 kills and eight digs; Madeline Lavergne had 11 kills, 12 digs, and four aces while Stacy Lewis added 11 digs. Madison Ketterer collected 10 digs, and Emma Vance had two kills, two digs, and a block.
The hardware was never in doubt as the closest Riverheads could get to winning a set was the 14-point margin in the second.
For Millirons, winning has come in bunches. The 3-peat matches her first run at Auburn when the Eagles won the 2012, 2013, and 2014 titles. Now the new stretch includes 2019, 2020, and 2021. Of course, the 2020 championship was played this past spring because of COVID.
Thus, Auburn’s players have been going since February.
“The Streak–we discussed the record in September when we broke the record, and then we didn’t talk about it. We prepare for our next match every day in practice. I never used a winning streak to motivate the team,” Millirons said.
The longtime coach said she was thrilled for the girls’ state title win. “They have worked hard. In the off season, they play, travel, and attend camps,” Millirons said. “During the season we go hard every day; we practice two hours a day and lift/condition for 45ish after practice. So it is great when hard work pays off.”
It was 2019 when Millirons became a rookie coach in word only when she returned to the bench. The “second” first team had six seniors, and when they were allowed back in the gym in July 2020, there were plenty of new faces.
“Our spring of 2021 season was unlike anything we have ever experienced,” Millirons said. “We did our best to do the right thing and keep each other safe while having COVID out there that could end our season at any time. This season felt normal, the girls went to school every day, they went to homecoming, and we had fans at our matches. I am so happy the team got a season that felt normal.”
The idea that the volleyball state title runs through Auburn is definitely something other coaches are paying attention to. The title of Class 1 state champions lives in Montgomery County and might stay here for a long time.
In addition, Millirons has become the winningest coach in western Virginia and possibly the state of Virginia.
The Eagles graduate six seniors from this year’s team but had six juniors and two underclassmen who gained valuable experience.
“We will start the 2022 season with the same goal we always do: Win our last match,” Millirons said.