Volleyball’s inaugural season will be one to remember

Published 7:00 am Thursday, June 13, 2019

Volleyball will be a new program going into this year for the Poplarville Hornets. The school ended the slow pitch softball program, and shifted their focus to volleyball, and it’s a change that Head Coach Jonathan Ray said the students were excited about.

“Volleyball will be brand new for us this year,” Ray said.

“We dropped slow-pitch softball, which is hard to do because it’s been a big program for us since the nineties, but it was time and the girls are excited about volleyball.”

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According to Ray, that excitement was palpable not only in the players, but also in the student body as a whole. The students were ready for a change, and a brand new athletic program was welcomed.

“There was a kind of underlying excitement,” Ray said.

“There had been a little bit of talk in the past, but nothing concrete. We did a sign up sheet for volleyball tryouts and 120 signed, and then 65 showed up for tryouts. I was surprised at tryouts how far along some of the kids were.”

The development of new players, and doing so quickly, will be of paramount importance for the Hornets if they plan to achieve the goals Coach Ray is outlining.

“We believe we can compete and make the playoffs the first year,” Ray said.

Coach Ray said the way to do that is split into multiple parts. Learn the game of volleyball, understand how to play it and come together as a team so that when the going gets tough the players can push through and be successful.

“We’ll have two weeks of practice before games and a lot of it is just going to be learning the game,” Ray said.

“We’re going to have to focus on fundamentals and learn the basics of the game. I feel like if we can get a good foundation I think with our athleticism is going to have us where we need to be.”

Poplarville won’t be alone in starting a new volleyball program either. Pearl River Community College is also starting up a volleyball program, and Ray has been in contact with the staff there to gain insight on how to go about being successful in their first season.

“The community college starting a program the same year is a big deal, and that’ll be a huge asset,” Ray said.

There are many positives heading into the first season for Coach Ray and the squad, but the main one will be how the student body and fan base interacts with the team.

“Our school is really good about school spirit, and from what I’m hearing when they startI think there will be a lot of excitement about it,” Ray said.

“I think they’ll be excited about it when it starts.”