Hornets lose close game to Purvis in second to last game of the season

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Poplarville’s volleyball team went into its inaugural season not knowing how the squad would perform against other experienced programs.

It was the first year for the Hornets to have a volleyball team, and they would be facing opponents with years of experience.

The team competed, even vying for a playoff spot heading into the second to last game of the season, and shattered all expectations the program had going into its inaugural season.

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Poplarville was still in the running for a playoff spot when the team faced Purvis in a key district game on Oct 10.

The Hornets needed to win in order to keep their playoff hopes alive, and Purvis was looking to spoil that.

The two teams were evenly matched, but the Tornadoes were victorious after winning the first three sets 25-18, 28-26 and 25-15.

Head Coach Jonathan Ray said it wasn’t his team’s best performance, and that inexperience played a role in his team’s defeat.

“The main things that affected us was just unfamiliarity with the game. We don’t make plays when we have to in these big games,” Ray said.

The loss knocked the Hornets out of the playoff picture, and Ray said it stung for the team’s three seniors.

Hannah Blanchard, Harley Blanchard and Aislynn Andrews were the squad’s leaders, and played important roles.

As seniors, they went into the season knowing they’d only have one year to play the game, but Ray said the trio picked up the sport quickly and ended up falling in love with it.

“They were consistently called upon to play well, and it’ll hurt to not have them next year. I hurt for them, but they provided everything you could ask for as seniors,” Ray said.

The matchup against Greene County that took place Tuesday evening was the last game of the season for Poplarville.

This time the Hornets played the role of spoilers.

Greene County needs to win in order to make the playoffs, and Ray wants to see his team make the most out of the opportunity to finish out the season with an important game.

“There’s still something at stake for them. We’ll get their best shot, but this could be a big win for us,” Ray said.

The final game of the season won’t be one the Hornets take lightly, and the athletes will look to ruin the Wildcats’ chances of making it into the playoffs.

Ray said he wants his players to have fun, and handle the pressure of playing in a final game with a lot riding on the line.

The experience will help the players in the future, and Ray said he wants his younger players to learn from these situations.

“I’d hope to see that they play relaxed, and see moving forward this is how you can play and where you need to be mentally,” Ray said.

The team’s final game was at home.