By Thomas Sellers Jr.
August volleyball is about getting a feel for your team, experimenting with strategies and seeing different types of opponents.
In the annual “Battle of Flag City,” the undefeated Tipton-Rosemark Academy Lady Rebels traveled to the William Osteen Gymnasium Aug. 27 to take on the host Millington Lady Trojans. Head Coach Wendy Porter’s Lady Rebels got a chance to see an athletic front line of Lady Trojans like Sierra Williams, Tierra Ford and Liz Woodard.
TRA was able pull out a three set victory while having to make adjustments winning 25-23, 25-17 and 25-17.
“I thought it was good,” Porter said of her team’s showing. “It really gave us a vision of what our ‘short court’ looks like. I think we were kind of weak on our short court to get the ball where we needed to.
“With the height and powerful blockers they have, we really haven’t played a team that gives us a lot of blocks,” she added. “So our hitters were able to adjust their hits according to blockers for the first time.”
Millington’s size dominated early in the first set with the Lady Trojans taking a 9-4 lead. Woodard scored on a tip and her teammate Jaymie Chism contributed with her serving scoring an ace.
Ford made it 9-4 with a kill. Then the Lady Rebels rallied back with six straight points to regain the lead. With the score 10-10, Lady Rebel Kendall Seering broke the deadlock with a spike.
Then TRA went ahead 21-13 when sophomore Asante Lopez hit an ace through the Millington defense. But it was a tip by Chism that stopped the Lady Rebels hot streak.
The Lady Trojans outscored TRA 8-1 to tie the set at 22-22. Woodard shined in that stretch with two blocks.
But TRA senior Mady Kate Gantt came through with a kill to break the tie. Bethany Burger made the score 24-22 in favor of the Lady Rebels.
Then Seering won the game with a kill. Down a set, the Lady Trojans came out hot in the second frame behind
Woodard. The senior scored on three early spikes to make the tally 5-7. But TRA managed to stay ahead the entire set with timely scores from Lopez and her teammate Jackie Kukendyall.
After winning the second set 25-17, the Lady Rebels took an early lead in the third set. Behind Woodard again, Millington chipped away at the TRA advantage to make the score 11-7 in favor of TRA.
Then when Williams slapped down a spike at the net the score was 14-12. But Lopez snapped the Millington momentum with an ace. The Lady Trojans got to within 20-17 before Berger served out the game. She ended the contest with an ace.
“It was good for us,” Porter said. “This being a non-district game, it’s good to get that practice in here and early before we get to a match where it really counts.”
TRA improved to 4-0 with the win. The Lady Trojans dropped to 0-2 with the loses coming to area rivals TRA and Munford.
Both TRA and Munford reached Sub-State last season. Playing those teams tough in five out six sets, Millington Head Coach Lisa Drumm said her players are improving each game.
“We have a lot of potential,” she said. “We have some things we have to work on. If we get those things straight I feel pretty good.”
After their second match, Drumm said knows what she will focus on in upcoming practices for her team to fulfill its potential.
“Better serve reception, if we can’t get that pass to the setter, it’s going to be hard for us to form an attack,” she concluded. “Everyday at practice it will be one of those things we focus on, our passing skills and pass and receive.”