By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The host and Region 8-2A champs Millington Lady Trojans were riding an emotional high of winning the school’s first Regional championship. Meanwhile, Thursday night represented a chance for a piece of history for Jackson South Side’s senior class.
Winner was going to Murfreesboro for the Class 2A State Volleyball Tournament beginning Tuesday. The loser was going to remain in West Tennessee missing out of that preseason goal.
In three sets, it was the South Side Lady Hawks earning the berth in the State Tournament defeating Millington 25-23, 25- 21 and 25-12.
“We set a goal at the beginning of the season,” Lady Hawks Head Coach Tommy Dean said. “Our seniors had been three years in a row. This would make their fourth. Very few seniors can say that. So we’re very happy, very blessed.”
South Side’s experienced came in handy in the first set with the Lady Trojans keeping the game close. Millington players like Paige Hall, TZ House, Addison Coulter and Lily Morton all scored points giving Millington a 9-5 lead. Then Lady Trojan freshman Ally Mareno chipped in with a block that made the tally 10-6.
The Lady Hawks rallied to deadlock the contest at 12-12. South Side continued its hot streak jumping ahead 17-13.
Trailing 20-17, the Lady Trojans received a boost from Coulter when she used a push to score a point. Then Mareno used her bow-and-arrow serve to dart an ace through the South Side defense.
Millington tied the set at 20-20. South Side outscored the Lady Trojans 5-3 down the stretch to snatch the opening set.
The second set was a close contest as well with Millington ahead 12-9 early. Once South Side reached 12 points, the Lady Trojans had 18 on the scoreboard.
It appeared Millington was going to deadlock the overall match at 1-1 in sets. But the Lady Hawks clawed back to tie the second set at 18-18.
South Side went ahead 21-18 and held off the Lady Trojans to take the second set 25-21.
“That first set was a big one,” Dean noted. “It very easily could have gone to Millington. You get that first set, the other team kind of has their backs against the wall. But that kind of set the tempo. You could see a little air come out of them in that third set.”
The third set was 10-9 in favor of South Side. Then the Lady Hawks outscored Millington 15-3 to close out the night and earn a spot in the State Tournament.
“It’s sad that somebody has to lose,” Dean said. “I tip my hat to Millington. We played them earlier in the year in a tournament. We beat them. They have really improved. They came out and came after us in those first two sets.
“It took a while to wake up,” he added. “But they have a great team. I know they’ve got several seniors too. It’s just sad somebody had to lose, but we’re happy.”
As South Side celebrated, the Lady Trojan faithful hung around the gym to capture one more moment of the deepest run in Millington Volleyball history. As the Lady Trojans returned to the court led by Head Coach Whitney Horton, the supporters in Black and Gold applauded the 2017-18 Lady Trojans.
This edition of Millington would be remembered for winning the district regular-season, District 15-2A Tournament, Region 8-2A Tournament, hosting Sub-State for the first time and winning several individual honors.
Dean said Millington should be congratulated on a special campaign. But the veteran coach is happy his girls grabbed a piece of exclusive history Thursday night.
“When they get as old as me and have grandkids like me, they can always walk the halls and see the picture that they went to State four years in a row,” he concluded.