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Hornets lose heartbreaker to Stone County

A close game that came down to the final serves of the fifth set saw Poplarville’s volleyball squad suffer a close loss to a talented Stone County team.

The game was a back and forth affair with the two teams trading sets all night.

The Hornets lost the first set 25-17, but were able to recover and come back to win the second set 25-23.

Another back and forth set saw the Wildcats win the third set 25-10.

The Hornets were playing to extend the game, and were able to win the fourth set 25-18.

In volleyball, the fifth set only goes to 15 points for a victor to be named, but they must win by two points.

Neither team was budging, and the game was tied 15-15 before two final serves from the Wildcats won them the game 17-15.

Head Coach Jonathan Ray said it wasn’t the result the team wanted, especially at home, but he liked his team’s intensity throughout the game.

“They played well and battled. It’s just the little things we need to work on, and we’re going to improve on that stuff,” Ray said.

The team is now two thirds of the way through the regular season.

With it being the program’s inaugural season, the squad has been learning the game of volleyball from the ground up.

The team may be coming off a hard loss, but Ray said his athletes are getting to where they need to be as volleyball players.

“We’re really close to where we want to be. We’re still in the mix as far as playoffs go, but that was a tough loss at home,” Ray said.

Libero is a position in volleyball that’s a defensive specialist who specifically focuses on digging balls.

The Hornets’ libero is senior Aislynn Andrews, and she was diving on the floor all night saving balls from hitting the ground.

“She’s good at that position because she’s fast, and has a high motor.  She’s crucial, and we’re going to miss her next year because she provides that senior leadership,” Ray said.

Ray also said Hannah Blanchard was a key player for the Hornets against the Wildcats by holding down the center of the court.

The team was coming off a long layoff that allowed the players to get more practice sessions in.

The 12-day period in between games was one of the team’s longest of the season.

“I don’t think the layoff hurt us, but I don’t think it helped us either,” Ray said.

The team has another long break between games, with the Hornets not playing again until Oct. 1.

Ray said the team would use the extra time to work on the building blocks of the game.

“We’ve got to keep working on the little things. I want to see us clean up the fundamentals, and have better passing and serving,” Ray said.

The squad’s next game will be at home against Forrest County Agricultural High School on Oct. 1.

The game is set to begin at 6 p.m.