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Milhorn celebrates — and is celebrated in — her senior season with ETSU

STEVE WILMOTH, TriCitiesSports.com • Sep 20, 2017 at 1:03 AM

JOHNSON CITY — Sullivan South product Rylee Milhorn spent the first four weeks of East Tennessee State’s volleyball season on the road racking up career highs and notching career milestones.

Prior to Milhorn’s final home opener on Tuesday evening against Western Carolina inside Brooks Gym, the senior outside hitter was honored for reaching 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in her Bucs career.

“That’s what you want for a senior,” said ETSU coach Lindsey Devine. “You want them to work hard through all those years.”

Milhorn led the Lady Rebels to the 2013 TSSAA Class A/AA championship, earning state tournament MVP honors in the process. Her first season at ETSU, she made the Southern Conference All-Freshman Team and was a first-team All-Southern Conference pick as a sophomore in 2015.

Last season, Milhorn made the Southern Conference all-tournament team after producing double-doubles in eight tournament matches.

“Rylee has been a great teammate,” Devine said. “She’s been an impact player right from her freshman year. To reach those milestones is a product of her hard work.”

Milhorn recorded her 1,000th kill in a five-set win over St. Louis on Sept. 9 and her 1,000th dig in a tough five-set defeat to Radford last Friday, a match in which she also bettered her career high with 24 more kills.

She’s already made two all-tournament teams this year and twice been a Tennessee Sports Writers Association selection as the state player of the week.

“Being honored before the match was really nice, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” Milhorn said. “My time here at ETSU, my first three years have been great. The atmosphere, the coaches, the team, it’s been so much fun. Yes, it’s hard work, but it’s so great to see the end product.”

Milhorn added a substantial number of kills and digs to those tallies in Tuesday’s 26-24, 25-21, 23-25, 25-21 win over the Catamounts in the Southern Conference opener for both squads.

The victory also secured a milestone for Devine: her 250th win as the Bucs’ coach.

“It’s about time probably,” Devine said jokingly. “I don’t really keep up with that, I just keep up with the girls and their milestones. We want them to continue to better every time they touch the ball and to continue to elevate our program like Rylee has helped do.”

Milhorn figured to face another former Lady Rebels player on the other side of the net Tuesday. But Western Carolina freshman setter Hannah Price — also a former state tournament MVP for South — is biding her time behind senior Jo-Leigh VerVelde.

Price — who has seen action in eight of Western Carolina’s 14 matches this season, making five starts — was actually a freshman at Sullivan East when Milhorn was a senior at South.

“Hannah is a very good setter, a very scrappy player,” Milhorn noted. “I have no doubt she’s going to be a force for them when her turn comes.”

Milhorn also missed out on seeing yet another familiar face in a recent ETSU match. Price’s older sister Haley is a libero/defensive specialist at Virginia Tech, but the redshirt sophomore has been plagued by injuries and did not play when the Bucs swept the Hokies.