By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Since a Gable has been on the roster of the Munford Lady Cougars, the Millington Lady Trojans haven’t won a set.
Scarlet started that run in 2007 and her sisters Savannah and Cecily have continued the tradition of beating the Lady Trojans since. Over the years there have been some thrilling sets but the results remained the same with Munford reaching 25 first.
That came to an end during the 2014 season opener in the Munford Gymnasium. On Aug. 18, the Lady Trojans under new Head Coach Jenna Harper got off to a solid start.
“We started off really well,” Harper said. “We were in our offense. We were doing awesome.”
Behind the inspired play of Lady Trojan Ashley Freeze, Millington edged Munford in the first set 30-28.
“Then we lost momentum,” Harper recalled. “We let No. 8 get hot. We had some minor issues setting up blocks against her. It can be resolved. We just started to play a little bit scared, tipping and stuff like that.”
That No. 8 was Munford’s Cecily Gable. And along with her teammates, the Lady Cougars regained their poise to prevail in four sets and give new Head Coach Angie Buchanan her first win at Munford.
“They (Lady Trojans) were scrappy and I thought we were a little timid tonight playing at home,” Buchanan acknowledged. “We’ve got a lot of new people in different positions. I am a new coach here after coaching for a long time at St. Benedict. I coached there for 21 years. I am a new coach with high expectations. We settled down.”
Settling down allowed Munford to win the second, third and fourth sets 25-22, 25-18 and 25-17.
“It’s better than being 0-1,” Buchanan said about the win. “They’re going to get better. It is just the beginning.”
The beginning for the Lady Cougars 2014 season was a seesaw battle featuring several lead changes and 12 ties in the first set.
Millington erased an 8-4 deficit to take a 16-12 lead with Freeze scoring on hits, blocks and kills. Munford kept pace with the Lady Trojans behind Gable, Lily “Hammer” Turner and Maddison Welch scoring points.
Then the Lady Cougars got a contribution from Sloane Caruthers with an ace to make the score 16-14 in favor of Millington. Welch tied the set at 18-18 with an ace of her own.
Turner laid down the hammer with a block giving Munford the advantage at 19-18. Freeze tied the set at 19-19 with a hit.
The back and forth action continued with Turner, Gable evening the score. Then it was Millington’s turn to deadlock the set at 22-22 with a block by Freeze.
With the set tied at 25-25, the Lady Trojans were a point away from victory when Paige Hall served up an ace. Munford managed to tie things up at 26-26.
Then Millington’s other Hall Monitor Alli Hall executed a spike to make the score 27-26 in favor of the Lady Trojans.
The Lady Cougars extended action once again tying the score at 27-27. Millington went ahead again at 28-27. Munford scored it’s final point of the set to deadlock things at 28-28.
Millington earned scored the next two points including a kill by Freeze to finish off the opening set.
In the second set the Lady Cougars took an early advantage and maintained their composure throughout to outlast Millington 25-22. The next set Gable and Turner scored more often than the Millington combination of Addison Coulter, Autumn Taylor and Freeze to win 25-18. Gable score four of Munford’s last five points in the third set.
The Lady Cougars were one set away from overall victory. After Alli Hall made the score 7-6 in favor of Munford, the Lady Cougars responded with a 7-1 run sparked by a Turner spike.
“Cecily and Lily, those are two people we can count on,” Buchanan said. “And Maddison who is playing setter which is a tough position. This is her first year. But she’s doing a great job being a first-year setter. They’re already good and they’re going to get better. And (Millington) that’s going to be a much improved team this year.”
Millington displayed its improvement rallying to make the score 19-15 after a Katie Dupree ace. The Lady Trojans were paced by the digs of Dupree and serving of her fellow senior teammate Lindsey Harris.
But it wasn’t enough in the fourth set as Gable closed out the night scoring the final point giving Munford the set 25-17.
Despite the four set defeat, Harper left her first game with the Lady Trojans with building blocks.
“Overall I did see some positive things,” she said. “We’ve just got to keep working and be more aggressive. We have to stop letting up when the other team has the momentum. We have to keep pushing.
“I do have a lot of freshmen out there,” Harper concluded. “A lot of girls with some young talent. We’ve just got to keep pushing and learn my system. We’ll be all right.”