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Lady Trojans get early edge over Covington

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Millington Lady Trojan Paige Hall slaps down a spike against Covington last week.

Millington Lady Trojan Paige Hall slaps down a spike against Covington last week.

COVINGTON — In just their second year in District 15-2A, the Millington Lady Trojans have quickly gained a volleyball rival.
Last season the Lady Trojans traded shots with the Covington Lady Chargers. While Millington took the district tournament crown, Covington won the regular season title and Region championship.
The rivalry was renewed Sept. 6 in the Covington Gymnasium. On paper this was a showdown for an early advantage in the district standings. But for first-year Millington Head Coach Tamarah Brandon, the game against the Lady Chargers was a chance for her squad to prove something to itself.
The Lady Trojans took care of business for a majority of the match to win 25-13, 14-25, 25-21 and 25-22. Brandon said her players were solid for most of the match, but the second set proved a test of adversity.
“Oh my gosh, we beat ourselves,” she noted. “It was the errors. It really wasn’t the other team. We were making our own mistakes. We served the ball out and when we did get the third hit, we served it out again. It was us making our own mental mistakes, errors. Simple mistakes that could be fix. And they started to beat themselves up when they saw them get ahead. They got dejected.”
It was Covington giving off a dejected body language during the first set with Millington cruising to a 25-13 win. Addison Coulter paced the Lady Trojans with several kills early to establish a 12-5 lead. With the score 16-11, Millington’s Paige Hall used a cross-court tip to make the Lady Trojans’ advantage 6 points and seize control of the opening set. Lady Trojans Olivia Ballard, Lily Morton and Divine Green closed out the set on a 8-2 run.
The second set belonged to Covington with the Lady Chargers bolting out to a 16-6 lead. Millington could never snatch momentum and fell 25-14.
“I took them back to the first set,” Brandon said. “Covington didn’t get pass 15. It was 25-13. ‘Play like you did in the first set. You’re giving them hope. Don’t give them hope.’ We’re giving teams hope.
“If you give a team up hope, they think they could win it,” she continued. “I basically told them to do what they were taught, get your passes up, get your sets up and hit your hits over. Get back to the basics.”
Hall got Millington on track in the third set with a pair of aces to make the score 6-3. With the tally 9-8 in favor of the Lady Trojans, Dymond Green scored on a tip to help Millington reach the 10-point plateau.
It was the serving attack of Coulter down the stretch that helped Millington prevail 25-21.  The junior served up two aces that made the score 15-10. And to seize control of the match, Coulter served Millington into a 23-18 lead.
Ahead 2-1 in sets, the Lady Trojans entered the fourth set looking to close out things. The “Gang Green” attack of Divine and Dymond helped Millington jump out a 6-0 lead.
Later in the set the Lady Trojans were ahead 11-6 after Morton made a diving, flat hand hit that led to a Coulter kill.
Covington bounced back with a 6-1 run to tie the set at 12-12. The fourth frame was tied 5 more times. Deadlock at 20-20, Coulter gave Millington the lead with a cross-court spike.
The junior hitter increased the Lady Trojans’ advantage to 24-20 with a tip and a pair of kills. She finished with 19 kills on the night.
Despite one last rally by the Lady Chargers, Millington got the final point it needed to win 25-22.
The victory gave the Lady Trojans a leg up in the standings and made the Millington faithful in the Covington Gymnasium happy on the way home. Among the black and gold supporters were Assistant Principal Beth Hale.
She gave the girls a motivational speech post game helping the Lady Trojans set higher goals for the future.
“They learn people actually support them and that people are actually looking up to them,” Brandon said. “They are setting a goal for Millington. They’re a trending topic right now. I told them let’s keep it up. Let’s keep this trending topic going. If you want to be in the Hall of Fame one day, let’s be in the Hall of Fame. They want another banner.”
Wrapping up the road stretch, the young rookie head coach did give a deep sigh of relief.
“It’s so stressful, I can’t even lie,” she acknowledged. “It’s very stressful dealing with the school, their grades, practices and even them sometimes.
“They’re motivating me,” Brandon concluded. “I’m learning while they’re learning. It’s a work in progress for the both of us.”

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September 2016
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