Picayune leaves it all on the court in loss to Long Beach

Published 7:00 am Saturday, September 28, 2019

It was the first game for the Maroon Tide volleyball squad after being eliminated from playoff contention two days earlier.

Head Coach Courtney Dickens wasn’t sure how her team was going to respond, but her athletes competed against a team Dickens said is one of the best they’ve faced all year. 

Long Beach won in convincing fashion, taking the first three sets 25-10, 25-2 and 25-16 to secure the victory.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

A major focus for the players was their defensive positioning, and it has been something the team has been dutifully working on in practice.

Dickens wanted her players to be in the right place at the right time, and she said she was happy with her team’s execution.

“Some things with our defensive positioning we’ve been going over in practice helped us. We definitely played them better this time than the last time,” Dickens said.

Picayune also had some bright spots offensively with seniors Aliciana Carter and Kyla Harris combining with junior Kyra Hathorne to get multiple kills against a tall, athletic Long Beach team.

The Maroon Tide volleyball program has only been in existence for two years, and going up against established programs like Long Beach is a purposeful choice by Dickens, so her team gets better in preparation for the toughest teams. Dickens said she uses each game as a learning opportunity for her athletes.

“We didn’t win, but when the girls give great effort and play hard that’s all you can ask. After that you can go fix your mistakes, and learn to get better,” Dickens said.

Some fresh faces have been seen on the court recently as Dickens has promoted several junior varsity players to boost their experience to the next level.

Since the team is eliminated from playoff contention, Dickens sees the last couple games of the season as a way for the younger, inexperienced players to get their feet wet.

“The level of competition is different, and I feel like I have to get these girls ready to face that level of competition for next year,” Dickens said.

That’s been the message for the squad the past couple of days.

They aren’t playing for now, they’re playing for the future of the program.

Dickens is introducing the young players to the squad for a reason, and so far it’s been beneficial.

“Destiny Hannah has made a huge difference. She’s quick, and she covers a lot of ground. Plus she had one block last night, and had several blocks against Hattiesburg,” Dickens said.

The team will play again Oct. 1 against Harrison Central.

Before that game, Dickens wants her team’s ball setting skills to improve.

“The past couple of days I’ve been saying I want us to get better at our serving, but the past couple games we’ve been consistent. Our setters have to improve on setting. Our passing has gotten better so our setters need to get better,” Dickens said.

The game against Harrison Central will be a home match, and will start at 6:30 p.m.