By Thomas Sellers Jr.
For more than 10 years, the Munford Lady Cougars have dominated the rivalry on the volleyball court against the Millington Lady Trojans.
During that timeframe, Munford has reached two State Tournaments, numerous Sub-State rounds starting in 2005 and sent several players to the college level including Sarah Chambers, Cecily Gable, Lizzie McLean and Scarlet Gable.
Meanwhile the Lady Trojans were building toward a historical 2015 season seeing Millington win the District 15-2A Tournament title and reach the school’s first Sub-State round.
Although 2015 was memorable, the Lady Trojans still couldn’t solve the Munford puzzle. But that all changed Aug. 22 in the Munford Gymnasium with Millington winning in four sets 25-12, 28-26, 22-25 and 25-18.
“It feels really great,” Lady Trojan Addison Coulter said. “We came in feeling they were going to be equal to us. But we came in and did great and got the win.”
The Lady Trojans controlled the opening set winning by a comfortable margin. But the final three sets were close with players like Coulter, Hannah Clifton, Kaylee Bone, Jess Trice, Camila Irizarry, Paige Hall, Olivia Ballard, Lily Morton, Dymond Green, Keiana Fieiar and Divine Lurry making crucial plays at key moments for victory.
In the opening set Munford was hanging around trailing 10-9. Lady Cougars Riley Wade and McKenzie Martin kept the set close with an ace and block respectively.
The Lady Trojans responded with a 15-3 run to close out the first set. Coulter’s serving was the spark Millington needed to pull away. Her serving transformed the score to 18-9. Green closed out the frame with a kill.
Munford Head Coach Angie Gover got her girls to adjust in the second set never allowing a Lady Trojans’ breakaway. The second set was tied 13 times including 20-20, 21-21, 24-24, 25-25 and 26-26.
Munford was head 24-21 and appeared to be ready to deadlock the overall contest at 1-1. But Millington fought off defeat courtesy of a Lurry spike. Then Irizarry made the score 24-23 with a service point.
Next up to save Millington was Coulter with a powerful kill to tied the set at 24-24. The Lady Cougars settled down and took the lead at 25-24.
Coulter once again tied the set this time using a cross-court kill. The junior hitter gave Millington a 26-25 lead with a volley.
Munford tied up the set at 26-26. Coulter broke the deadlock for good with another kill. Millington closed out the set to win 28-26.
“Whenever I get that one kill, it just keeps on going constantly,” Coulter said. “I just keep getting it.
“They woke me up and I’m ready,” she added. “I have to keep doing what I have to do everyday to keep this going.”
The previous two seasons, Coulter has tapped into her potential using her athletic, 6’4 frame. This season she’s looking more comfortable on the court and taking charge in crucial moments.
Her teammate Paige Hall is also a leader on the court for Millington. She’s stepping up in the role on and off the court in 2016.
“I knew myself I had to play to my fullest potential and work as hard as I could,” Hall said. “I knew I had to keep my team playing up too. I think we did. I hope (my teammates) learned to work off mistakes and be leaders themselves.”
All the Lady Trojans got a test in adversity losing the third set 25-22. Wade broke a 21-21 tie with a spike. The Lady Cougars outscored Millington 3-1 down the stretch for victory.
Millington Head Coach Tamarah Brandon got her girls to bounce back in the fourth set holding the lead the entire frame.
The victory in Munford was a confidence booster for the Lady Trojans and a longtime coming after a decade of dominance from the Lady Cougars.
“It feels really good especially with the M&M Bowl coming up,” Hall concluded. “It felt really good and we worked hard as a team. It felt like we deserved to win coming off the weekend losing a little bit (in Collierville). It was a learning experience. We were ready to come back. We were humbled and it was a very good experience for us.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.