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Poplarville volleyball gets program’s first district win

An hour and a half long bus ride to the opponent’s gym, and a hostile environment wasn’t enough to stop the Poplarville Hornets volleyball team from emerging with a victory against Greene County Thursday evening.

The young program was heading into its first ever district match up against the Wildcats, and to get the win was a step in the right direction for Head Coach Jonathan Ray and his players.

“Getting that victory was huge,” Ray said.

“That was exciting, and this early in the program that’s our biggest win to get a road victory in district.”

There were a variety of obstacles the athletes had to overcome to get their first district win.

The Hornets won the first set 25-17 before momentum shifted.

The Wildcats took the following two sets 25-16 and 25-19, putting the Hornets on the brink of defeat.

However, the athletes persevered and won the fourth and fifth sets with scores of 25-20 and 15-12 to lock down the victory. “They were able to compete, stay in the game and weather the adversity that always comes,” Ray said. It was the team’s third game in four days, and fatigue could’ve hindered the squad’s ability to perform. Ray said the players were willing to give it their all on the court, and overcame the mental and physical wear of playing so many games in a short period of time.

“They had excitement and energy and were willing to compete,” Ray said. “It really didn’t affect them as much as I anticipated. They were excited to play, and they had a chance to win.”

The Wildcats’ student section was loud all evening, and Ray said that affected the players’ communication.

However, once the athletes adjusted to the noise they were able to focus up and win the last two sets.

“At the beginning I don’t think we handled it well, the environment was really intense and really loud,” Ray said. “So when all that started going in the second and third sets we lost our focus, but once we weathered it we fed off it.” Ray said that the win was a team effort, with each player serving a specific role and performing well. The team will now have a long layover before the next game. Twelve days separate the team from its next competition against Stone County, and Ray said that the rest is well deserved.

“I think it’s good,” Ray said. “We were tired after last night, and it’ll give us a chance to continue to practice. We still need a lot of work on the little things.” Ray said that because the program is so new the extra practice time will prove beneficial for the athletes as they continue to work on fundamentals. The focus will now shift to their next opponent, Stone County, and Ray said his team would be working on the details of the game during the coming days. “We have to work on our communication and working together,” Ray said. “Being at the right place and communicating with each other. We’re just trying to clean up the little things in practice.” The game against Stone will take place September 24 with it set to start at 6:00 p.m.