Romeo – Gia Milana came into her senior season wanting to lead Romeo to consecutive state championships while being a dominant outside hitter on a consistent basis.
The 6-foot-2 Milana has made sure Romeo's goal of another Class A state title is still alive, playing at a high level throughout the season, a reason she was honored as Miss Volleyball on Monday.
"Gia's dedication to making herself better every day is the reason she is the player she is," said Romeo coach Stacy Williams. "She holds herself accountable on every play and makes her teammates do the same. She recognizes that details are important and she works on those details daily. Gia's fun to be around and brings intensity and personality to the court."
Milana, who was recruited by national powers such as Penn State as a 13-year-old, had 38 kills and a .409 hitting percentage last Thursday in a five-set regional final win over Utica Eisenhower.
The Bulldogs will play Traverse City West in a quarterfinal Tuesday night at Midland Dow.
Milana, who will play college volleyball for Maryland, is the third straight player from Metro Detroit to win Miss Volleyball. Katherine Carlson of Notre Dame Prep won the award last year and Carli Snyder of Macomb Dakota won in 2013.
Milana got on the radar as an outstanding player when Romeo upset defending Class A state champion Dakota and Snyder her sophomore year. She then elevated her game to the next level as a junior and carried it over to this season.
"It's something I never thought about," said Gia of winning Miss Volleyball. "When I started playing volleyball I played because I love volleyball, I didn't play because I thought I'd be good or accomplish something this amazing. It's definitely the cherry on top.
"It's such an amazing honor and I'm so blessed to show my school off in all of this. This is such a huge, huge honor, but winning the state championship felt better. I wouldn't trade that state championship for the world, because it's with my teammates, and we want to do it again."
Milana has 852 kills this season, hitting at a phenomenal .528 clip. She also has 39 blocks, 345 digs and 110 aces.
Milana was at her best last week in a regional semifinal comeback win over Lake Orion when she had 41 kills and a .493 hitting percentage.
"Gia's doing great and so is our entire team right now," said Williams. "We played at home (in the regionals) and it was a sweatbox with more than a thousand fans packing the gym. The whole community came out.
"We were down 11-6 in the fifth set against Lake Orion and came back and beat them. We then had another five-setter in the regional final and pulled that out."
Romeo has more than just Milana. Junior outside hitter Jodie Kelly had a season-high 18 kills against Eisenhower and senior setter Bre Olley had 60 assists.
In other Class A quarterfinals, Grosse Pointe North will face Novi at West Bloomfield; Livonia Churchill will play Monroe at Gibraltar Carlson and Grand Rapids Christian will take on Mattawan at Caledonia.
The Class D (2 p.m., 3:45) and Class A (5:30, 7:15) semifinals will be Thursday at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek with Class C (2 p.m., 3:45) and Class B (5:30, 7:15) semifinals set for Friday at the same site. Title matches for all classes will be Saturday with Class D at 10, Class C at noon, Class A at 2 and Class B at 4.
Gabriel Richard still unbeaten
Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (38-0) will try to become the first unbeaten state champion since Fraser in 2002.
The Irish will play Lake Odessa Lakewood at Leslie in a Class B quarterfinal Tuesday with the winner moving on to Kellogg Arena Friday night to play the winner of the Livonia Ladywood-Goodrich quarterfinal.
Gabriel Richard swept Grosse Ile to earn its second straight regional title Thursday night. Last year, the Irish lost to Battle Creek Harper Creek in a quarterfinal. The last state championship for the Irish was in 1991.
The Irish have lost only six sets all season.