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Poplarville loses close game to Stone

Poplarville’s volleyball team is in the hunt for a playoff spot in its first season of existence.

The athletes have been working consistently to get better, and the improvement has been visible on the court.

Their playoff hopes took a blow Tuesday night when the team faced district-leading Stone County.

The Hornets were competitive throughout the match, but ended up losing the game in three sets.

The first set and second set ended with nearly identical scores of 25-17 and 25-18 respectively.

The final set was a different story with the teams constantly trading points.

It took extra points for the game to be decided, but Stone ended up coming out on top 27-25.

Head Coach Jonathan Ray said the team didn’t take advantage of the necessary opportunities to earn a victory.

Couple that with Stone’s performance, and it was going to be hard for the Hornets to win.

“We were there, we had the opportunities, but Stone was really good, they were hitting on all cylinders. They showed that they’re the best team in the region,” Ray said.

Poplarville had to travel to Stone, and play in the Wildcats’ gym.

Ray said the atmosphere had an effect on the team, and with the team unable to take advantage of Stone’s miscues, the game ended with a Poplarville loss.

“It’s hard to go over there. They had a good crowd and were loud. Our kids competed, but didn’t play well enough to win,” Ray said.

There are only two games left in the regular season for the Hornets, and with a loss to Stone Poplarville will need to win the final games to have a chance at a playoff spot.

“We feel good about the opportunity. It’ll be the team who handles the pressure, and is able to execute and perform well that will win,” Ray said.

Junior Janna Peterson has been a mainstay for the Hornets’ team all year, and she performed well against Stone.

She’s one of multiple key players for the team, but with the program being in its first season Ray said there were still some consistency issues that need to be addressed.

“They all played well in spurts, and then had some inconsistencies along the way,” Ray said.

The team’s next game will be against Purvis at home on Oct. 10, a match the Hornets will need a win to stay in the playoff picture.

In preparation for the Tornadoes, Ray said the team will use its practice time to get as many little things as possible cleaned up before the game.

“It’s going to be fundamental day, get some basics in and get ready to play,” Ray said. There will be a lot riding on the game against Purvis, but Ray just wants his athletes to relax and focus.

If they do that, Ray said his team would have a good chance of winning.

“I just want them to play with excitement, and focus. If we do that we’ll be OK,” Ray said.