Picayune volleyball gaining experience

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Maroon Tide volleyball team is heading into the final portion of the season with just three games left to play.

Having been eliminated from playoff contention, the team is trying to end the season on a positive note.

Head Coach Courtney Dickens has used the last couple of games to introduce some younger, junior varsity players into the mix.

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It would be understandable at this stage of the season for the intensity of the player’s to subside slightly, but Dickens said that hasn’t been the case with her athletes.

“I was really pleased with how we played last night. The effort was very good. There’s not many times that I can say it’s not there, but I can’t help but worry sometimes if they’re going to give me the effort not being in the playoffs,” Dickens said.

Picayune lost against Bay High Oct. 3 in three sets with scores of 25-15, 25-18 and 25-20.

The team’s inexperience has led to some inconsistency throughout the season, since it’s only the second year of the program’s existence.

A point of emphasis in practice has been serving, not just getting the ball inbounds, but getting some power and movement on it as well.

Dickens said the athletes struggled to serve well during their most recent game against Bay High. However, Dickens said when the team becomes more consistent the wins will come.

“If we could ever put it all together, we would have more wins. I still think we’re right there with a lot of (teams),” Dickens said.

The squad has multiple seniors on it, but for the most part the majority of the team’s players will be returning for next season.

The upper classmen have been teaching the younger players the ropes as they try to improve and play at the next level. “They’re playing to make themselves better because they want to play in college. I talk all the time about how you never know who is in the stands and watching,” Dickens said.

The educational help the seniors provide also helps the younger players adjust faster to the speed of the game.

There is a big difference between junior varsity and varsity play.

Spending time with the younger plays helps with the transition.

“It made me smile on the inside because I noticed some of the seniors were helping my little seventh graders, and that made me happy to see that,” Dickens said. The youth of the squad means the future of the team is bright, with multiple players getting game experience for several years before they graduate.

Expectations will increase each year as the squad gets larger, and the players become more familiar with the game. Dickens said players such as junior Destiny Hannah, junior Abby May and sophomore Ariel Goynes will be just a few of the players she’s expecting to step up next season.

“There’s a couple more junior varsity players who have the potential, but just aren’t there yet. They’re going to have to really work and step up next year,” Dickens said. The team’s next games will be away at George County on Oct. 8 at 6:30 p.m. and at home against Pass Christian on Oct. 10 at 6 p.m.

It’ll be the first time the two teams meet since the first game of the season, and Dickens is expecting her team to perform better this time around. “It’ll be interesting to see how much better we do against them. I’m expecting our scores to be higher,” Dickens said.