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Poplarville volleyball beats Picayune in rivalry game

The Poplarville Lady Hornets and Picayune Lady Maroon Tide volleyball teams met Tuesday evening in a rivalry match that saw the Lady Hornets win in straight sets 25-15, 25-21 and 25-14.

Picayune Head Coach Courtney Dickens said she was disappointed in the result, but that there were positives to draw from the loss.

Three eighth graders made their varsity debut for the Lady Maroon Tide Thursday and Dickens said she was impressed with how Kaigyn Kulas, Brooklyn Wilson and Barcley Martinez handled the pressure of a varsity game. Kulas filled the setter role for Picayune. Dickens said the eighth grader stepped up and battled with the older, more experienced athletes.

“Having an eighth grader controlling the offense in a varsity game is big. She stepped in there and did a great job,” Dickens said.

Poplarville Head Coach Robin Jeffries said she’s let her players do a lot of coaching and correcting among themselves this season as a way to increase ownership and responsibility amongst the athletes.

The chemistry is translating to on court success and Jeffries said the approach has allowed players of all experience levels to positively impact the team.

“The seniors are of course a standout, but that’s not to say there aren’t tenth and eleventh graders stepping up and having a huge impact. The kids’ feedback so far has been that they’re enjoying it and having fun,” Jeffries said. District play for both teams started Thursday and Dickens said her players are looking to get more comfortable in a new rotation as they look to get their first win of the season.

“It would be really great if our first win of the season was a district game. We started a new rotation and I thought it looked better (Tuesday) night. The girls feel more comfortable with it, and I feel like that’s also going to carry over to (the district) game,” Dickens said. Although starting district play with a win would be an advantage that could yield dividends later in the season, Jeffries said it’s still important her team plays its game.

Opponents are going to change and so are their strategies, but for the Lady Hornets to build on their early season success, staying true to their nature will be important.

“We’re just going to set up on the court and do what we do. We’re not going to adjust how we play depending on how other teams play, especially since we’re young and new. We want to create consistency, keep improving and make minor changes at practice, but then step on the court at game time and do what we do,” Jeffries said.

Picayune will start district play Sept. 10 against Long Beach at home, with the game slated for a 6:30 p.m. start. The Lady Hornets will have their first district game on Sept. 10 as well against Greene County with a start time of 6 p.m.