By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Both the Millington Lady Trojans and Munford Lady Cougars were placing a bow on opening week/rivaly week.
Before the weekend arrived, the two rivals entered the William Osteen Gymnasium last Thursday for another contest among friendly foes. Earlier in the week Millington traveled up Highway 51 to take on the Brighton Lady Cardinals losing in four competitive sets.
The Lady Cougars opened the 2013 campaign with a three-set sweep of rival the Covington Lady Chargers. And Munford pulled off the feat against Millington winning 25-14, 25-8 and 25-17.
“They’re still getting used to things,” Munford Head Coach Nina Makris said. “But it is still working out well even though they’re learning.”
The Lady Cougars learning curve was on display early against Millington tied 5-5 in the first set after Lady Trojan Kara Fleming served an ace.
That was when Munford’s Cecily Gable helped her team settle down. The junior used her jump serve to help the Lady Cougars take a 9-5 advantage.
Ahead 12-7, Munford’s emerging outside hitter Lily Turner slapped down a spike to make the score 13-7. Gable sharpen up her form on kills with a score later in the set giving Munford an 8-point lead.
Once Lady Cougar Maddison Welch served up an ace, Munford was ahead 16-7 in the opening set. The Lady Trojans cut the score 17-10 before Munford’s Precious Mills scored on a kill. The Lady Cougars outscored Millington 7-4 down the stretch to win the first set 25-14.
In the second set Munford built a 10-4 lead after a Turner spike. Then Gable seized control of the set dominating with her serves once again. This time the junior high-flyer scored on four consecutive aces to make the score 17-5. Mills put the finishing touches on the set with an ace to give Munford the 25-8 win.
The Lady Trojan combination of Sierra Williams and Fleming tried to make the close-out set tough on Munford. Williams scored on a spike and Fleming block a kill attempt at the net put pull Millington within 12-9.
The Lady Trojans only trailed 13-11 later in the third set when Gable gave her team a little breathing room. She served up an ace that made the 15-11. Turner contributed once again with a kill to make the score 18-13.
“Lilly, not just her hitting, but her passing has been really well,” Makris noted. “And Laura (Leavell) has done a great job. She went from coming in and playing a little bit of front row to playing all the way around. She’s doing well at it.
“Lilly has really stepped up and taken on that role as the power hitter,” she continued. “Cecily has been a strength all along since her freshman year. But when you have just one, they pick on that one. When you have two, the opponents don’t know. And Precious stepped up too tonight.”
Putting Leavell, Turner, Gable and Mills in position to score was senior setter Jodie Duncan. Throughout the night Duncan set up the back and front row for dinks, pushes and spikes. But Duncan was needed to close out the match when Turner served up an ace to end the third set at 25-17.
With the first week of games in the book, the Lady Cougars prepared for their first weekend tournament of 2013 in Collierville.
“The main reason for this weekend’s tournament is to go and play teams that play a faster game,” Makris said. “In our district, they play a slow game. You’ve got plenty of time to get to the block. You’ve got plenty of time to get set up.
“The better the team, the faster the game goes,” she added. “You just don’t have time to adjust as much. And that is what kills you. So to go to Collierville and see that faster pace game, with even Bartlett who plays that pace, those teams are faster than those in our district. We haven’t played anyone in our district yet, so I don’t know how our district will be.”