Poplarville volleyball starts season off with two wins

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, August 13, 2019

On Saturday the Poplarville High School volleyball team kicked off its inaugural season with consecutive victories.

The squad was taking part in the Poplarville Classic, a tournament that included teams from Purvis High School and Perry Central High School.

Head Coach Jonathan Ray and his athletes had been working to improve and that progress showed once the game started.

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“Overall they outperformed expectations, they looked a lot better in the game setting than in practice,” Ray said.

“The way we’ve been progressing there’s no doubt we’ll get to where we want to be.”

Starting off the season with two wins can provide momentum heading into Tuesday’s game against Lumberton High School.

However, Ray said that even though the victories are great, the learning aspect of the classic was more beneficial for the athletes.

“The victories were huge, but the experience was even more important,” Ray said.

“They’ll have more experience now, so they understand what’s going on.”

That experience lends itself to being useful not only in game situations, but in practice as well.

Ray said that his squad is going to have to continue working on the basics of volleyball; passing, setting, hitting and serving.

Not only that, but Ray wants his athletes to switch between offensive and defensive sets seamlessly.

“We’re just going to focus on our transition from offense to defense, being at the right place at the right time,” Ray said.

“Now that we understand the flow of the game it gives me more coaching points.”

Since Saturday was the program’s first set of games, the players and Ray hoped for a good community turnout for the game.

Ray said that the community did not disappoint, and that the players could feel the energy of the crowd while on the court.

“It’s really exciting not just for the players, but for our community as well,” Ray said.

“It’s going to draw fans, especially in a small community like Poplarville because it’s an exciting sport.”

“The unknown is our biggest obstacle, and we worked through that in the beginning of the first set against Purvis,” Ray said.

Senior team captains Hannah Blanchard and Aislynn Andrews both served key roles in helping the team earn its first victories.

Now the athletes better understand the pace of the game, and Ray said that familiarity would benefit the squad as they gain more experience.

“Moving forward, the girls are getting more comfortable with the game, and it’s an exciting game,” Ray said.

The squad’s next game is away at Lumberton with junior varsity starting at 5 p.m. and the varsity squad playing at 6 p.m.