Categorized | Sports

Back in Stride: Lady Trojans looking to hit another gear with district play

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Camila Irizarry volleys the ball during last week's game against the Lady Indians.

Camila Irizarry volleys the ball during last week’s game against the Lady Indians.

Millington's Olivia Ballard makes a return volley during the game against Jackson North Side in the William Osteen Gymnasium.

Millington’s Olivia Ballard makes a return volley during the game against Jackson North Side in the William Osteen Gymnasium.

The Millington Lady Trojans were going through the motions Aug. 29 waiting on the Jackson North Side Lady Indians to arrive to the William Osteen Gymnasium.
While the delay took place, some of Head Coach Tamarah Brandon’s players were practicing their serves, bumping the ball and sharing laughs. Maybe the reason for the smiles and joking was the opponent coming for the District 15-2A contest.
Last season the Lady Trojans dominated each contest against JNS and expected to do the same Aug. 29. But the Lady Indians had other ideas once they walked into the Millington Gymnasium.
JNS pushed Millington in the first set with the Lady Trojans holding on for a 25-20 victory. Once the Lady Trojans settled down, Millington took the next two sets 25-12 and 25-17.
“It was more of what we were doing,” Brandon acknowledged. “We gave some points away, gave some serves away and kept making stupid mistakes. Basically having no volleyball-sense for a moment. I told them, ‘You need to stop playing with your opponents. They will come back and beat you.’
“They had these little ideas in their heads that they could play with people,” she added. “You can’t do that. They want to win too. You have to have that mentality that you want to win and win every game. We came in wanting to win but you can’t play around. We were laughing and joking. I told them you can’t do that. I told them someone will take advantage of it just like in the Munford game. They won a set in that game.”
August was a month of learning for the Lady Trojans under their new head coach. Millington player are adjusting to playing with high expectations after winning the district tournament and reaching Sub-State last season.
Brandon warned her team that the opposition is on the hunt to down the Lady Trojans. The Lady Indians proved that in the first set taking a 15-11 lead.
Millington’s Addison Coulter cooled down JNS’ momentum with a kill. Later in the frame Coulter slapped down another spike to tie the set at 17-17.
The Lady Indians took the lead again at 18-17. Millington responded with a final rally to win the set. Hannah Clifton broke a 20-20 deadlock with a reverse tip. Lily Morton served up the first-set victory with three aces. Dymond Green mixed in a kill to help Millington pull out a 25-20 win.
In the second set Millington appeared more focused jumping out to a 9-2 lead. After Coulter got the team started with her attacks at the net, Clifton helped the Lady Trojans ahead with her serves to make the score 12-6.
Then it was Coulter’s turn to display her service game. The junior seized control of the second set transforming the score from 13-7 to 20-7. Divine Green and Paige Hall closed out the frame with a kill and tip to make the score 24-12. Coulter’s block of a Lady Indian attack ended the set 25-12.
The third set was more competitive with the score 10-9 in favor of Millington. Lady Trojan Jess Trice sparked a 6-0 Lady Trojan rally with a volley for a score. Once again Morton was the star with her serving helping Millington go ahead 16-9.
Divine Green and Hall were the closers yet again using tips to push Millington ahead 21-14. The Lady Trojans outscored the Lady Indians 4-3 to win the game.
“We have to go in wanting to win and with the right attitude,” Brandon said. “We have to go in with what we learned in practice like covering, serves and executing good passes, hits and movement around the court.”
Brandon said the first month of the season was her team learning about each other. She said September will test her squad in a different way traveling to district rivals.
“I’m hoping to accomplish of course some wins,” she concluded. “I guess improving at our game, improve from the mistakes we made in the last game. We’re always striving to improve from the game before like if we made that bad pass. In this game make sure we serve better. Serving killed us all night. They were a little too strong. I think it was some of those push-ups I had them doing before the game.”

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