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SPORTS ALERT: Lady Trojans celebrate volleyball seniors, head into districts as No. 1 seed

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Volleyball 2017-18 Seniors Volleyball faces in crowd Volleyball Paige Hall and Hannah Clifton Volleyball Senior FatheadsSenior Night was finally here for Millington Lady Trojans Olivia Ballard, Paige Hall, Addison Coulter, Lily Morton and TZ House.

The dedicated quintet has been a part of historic highs and internal lows the past few years. But Monday night was a chance to celebrate the accomplishments of the girls. House has been a consistent hard worker grooming her game to earn a starting spot in the rotation for new Head Coach Whitney Horton.

Morton suffered an ACL injury early in her career. The libero with a lion’s heart fought back through rehab to be a starter once again. Ballard has been the glue on and off the court as a leader by example.

Coulter has the largest presence on the team standing well over 6-feet tall. She also gain attention through her stellar play from college like Ole Miss to Bethel.

And the engine for the Lady Trojans the past three years has been Hall. She is a do-it-all type of player who presence if felt when she’s not on the court.

When Hall departed from the team in 2016 halfway during her junior season, the Lady Trojans struggled down the stretch.

“It was really hard at times,” Hall acknowledged. “We definitely did have our ups and downs. We did play together as a team. We worked together very well. We still have a lot more to come.”

Hall said she missed her teammates and had to come back her senior season under the guidance of Horton. The Class of 2018’s first two campaigns were under the guidance of Jenna Harper as the program made the transition to District 15-2A.

In 2015 the group of sophomores contributed to the Lady Trojans’ first district title, berth in Regionals and reaching Sub-State. The banner hangs just underneath the scoreboard in the William Osteen Gymnasium.

Harper departed and Tamarah Brandon took over the team last season. The former Lady Trojan Volleyball standout got off to a fast start before things fizzled out toward October. Coulter still did earn the district’s MVP award in 2016.

Then Horton inherited the program with a mission to restore the cohesion.

“We had our ups and downs, but all the practices, all of the hard work, the teamwork we made it here today,” Ballard said. “Coach Horton has had a huge impact on us. If it wasn’t for her, we wouldn’t be here.”

Today the Lady Trojans are the 2017 regular-season District 15-2A champions and will head into next week’s district tournament in Ripley as the No. 1 seed. Millington had to win one game to earn a spot in the Regional Tournament.

But before the trip up to Ripley, Millington wanted to make Senior Night extra special.

“It was amazing,” Ballard shouted after the sweep. “We won.”

Millington senior TZ House encourages her freshman teammate Ally Mareno as she tries to place the ball pass a Craigmont defender during last week's game. The Lady Trojans won the regular-season district title.

Millington senior TZ House encourages her freshman teammate Ally Mareno as she tries to place the ball pass a Craigmont defender during last week’s game. The Lady Trojans won the regular-season district title.

The Lady Trojans dominated the Craigmont Lady Chiefs 25-5, 25-15 and 25-8. To conclude the 2017 regular season Millington will take on Briarcrest and Bartlett. From Athletic Director Beth Hale to Horton, the program saw the final two games as a chance to prepare for a tough postseason run taking on perennial powers like the Lady Saints and Lady Panthers.

“Win and go as far as we can,” Hall said will be the approach. “We want to see competition, a lot of competition. We’re going to get a lot of skill and face hard workers. We just have to give it back and take it into district play.”

Ballard said the final two games will test the Lady Trojans and make the rediscovered chemistry even better heading into October.

“Teamwork and hard work,” she concluded. “It’s going to take dedication too. We can’t overlook the first game in district tournament. Especially with the competition we have coming up we won’t. It will make us look out for each other and be there for each other.”

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