By Thomas Sellers Jr.
With so many iPhones, Galaxy phones and a couple of Blackberry being used among the crowd Aug. 27, St. George’s Lady Gryphons Head Coach Emmy McClain was only worried about one type of service.
As spectators of the Tipton-Rosemark Academy/St. George’s contest text, snap pictures of the game and used social media to update results, McClain got enough serves from her players to post a four-set victory over the Lady Rebels 25-12, 25-22, 15-25 and 25-11.
In the opening set St. George’s dominated behind the serves of Alexandra Smith. And it was a team effort behind the service line in the fourth set that earned the Lady Gryphons win No. 10 on the season.
But the two middle sets were either even or dominated by the Lady Rebels with TRA outscoring St. George’s 47-40.
“We missed a million serves,” McClain noted. “If we lose our serves, it’s pretty much over. If we get those in, we’re good to go.”
Usually a celluar phone customer identifies speed with good service. After dropping the fourth set against TRA, McClain instructed her players to take an opposite approach.
“That was our talk in the timeout,” she recalled. “We said, ‘We’re going to get our serves and we’re going to bring that commitment to each other. Don’t worry about bringing the speed right now.’ We knew we had to get in and the hitter would do the rest.”
The slower and calm approach help St. George’s jump ahead 22-5 in the final set. But it was the Lady Rebels with a large lead in the third set.
The serves of Smith opened up the attack of hitters Sope Adeleye and Roxanna Wood at the net for St. George’s in the first set leading to a 13-point win.
The Lady Rebels were more competitive in the second set behind the play of Bethany Berger and Jordyn Thornell near the net.
TRA junior Asante Lopez provide some excitement with kills and her senior teammate Kendall Seering was all around the court scoring points with serves, hits, tips and spikes.
When Seering scored on a push, the Lady Rebels trailed 24-22 in the second frame. But Wood struck the decisive blow with a kill to put St. George’s up 2-0 in sets.
The Lady Rebels shook off the second set defeat and buildt on their momentum in the third set capitalizing on Lady Gryphons errors.
Thornell started to get the timing down on Adeleye and Wood blocking a spike attempt early in the third set to make the score 5-4 in favor of TRA.
Later in the frame, Berger regain the advantage for the Lady Rebels with a tip at 7-6. Then Seering took over the third set with her serves.
The senior had three aces in a stretch to give TRA a 13-7 lead. St. George’s climbed within 14-10 before Lopez and Seering opened the gap. Berger closed out the third set with a tip to make the score 25-15.
The Lady Gryphons talked about slowing the pace and getting back to basics in the fourth set. That seemed to be the perfect plan for St. George’s jumping out to a 17-4 lead.
Smith was the player responsible for serving up most of those points including a pair of aces. TRA mounted a small comeback before surcoming to St. George’s 25-11.
The win improved St. George’s to 10-2 on the young season. The Lady Gryphons picked up a Silver Division championship in the Collierville Tournament the previous weekend.
The tournament victory and division win over TRA are just steps the St. George’s program wants to take toward reclaiming the State championship. Last year the Lady Gryphons reached Sub-State after winning it all in 2011.
“We have one goal,” McClain concluded. “Our slogan is, ‘Get it back.’ We want the State championship back at our place this year. We want to win everything we play. That’s our goal. We’re on a mission.”