Picayune volleyball loses close game to Hattiesburg

Published 7:00 am Thursday, September 26, 2019

It was a pressure filled match for the Maroon Tide knowing their playoff eligibility hinged on getting a quick win.

The team lost to Hattiesburg previously in four sets, and so in order to stay in the playoff hunt Picayune would have to win Tuesday night’s game in three sets.

Picayune came out strong in the first set winning 25-18 before losing a nail biter of a second set with a score of 26-24.

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The second set loss meant the Maroon Tide was eliminated from playoff contention.

The athletes kept competing, and won the third set 25-19. Unfortunately for the Maroon Tide Hattiesburg took the final two sets 25-15 and 15-6.

It was a tough loss for Head Coach Courtney Dickens and her athletes to take, and Dickens said her athletes had a hard time keeping up the intensity.

“They weren’t playing as hard because they knew they weren’t in the playoffs,” Dickens said.

There were some bright spots for Picayune, including senior Sarah Stockstill.

Stockstill is the team’s libero, a defensive specialist whose main job is to keep the ball off the ground during serves and spikes.

Dickens said blockers Aliciana Carter and Kyla Harris also performed well in the loss.

Dickens said the team has been struggling in performing well consistently, and last night that cost the Maroon Tide a shot at the playoffs.

“We win a set, and then the next set we’re a totally different team. It’s like night and day. We’ve got to figure out how to be more consistent,” Dickens said.

The team may have been eliminated from playoff contention, but the squad still has six games left before the season ends.

Now Dickens has the task of keeping her athletes motivated without the chance of a postseason.

It all comes down to competing for Dickens, no matter the game, and she’s hoping she can instill the same mindset in her players.

“The feeling of winning is addicting, and they know now what it feels like to win. You really have to hate losing more than you love winning,” Dickens said.

The team is very young, with only four seniors on the squad.

Dickens said the young players need to be motivated to continue to play well so they’ll get better for next season.

Dickens is building her program from the ground up, and she has some young talent coming through the pipeline that she has to motivate.

“They’re playing to make themselves better for next year. They’re not just playing for now, but also playing for next year and the year after that,” Dickens said.

The Maroon Tide’s next game is at Long Beach, and the game is set to take place Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m.

It’ll be the first game after being knocked out of playoff contention, but that doesn’t mean Dickens expects her team to just roll over come game time.

“We changed our defense up since the last time we played them, and I’m hoping that’s going to help us,” Dickens said.