By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The defending District 15-2A champions Millington Lady Trojans hit the court to open the 2018 season and begin the Abby Wade Era.
Wade was a vital part of the championship success in 2017 serving the role as assistant coach under Whitney Horton. That historic Lady Trojan Volleyball team bid farewell to Horton and five seniors including the last pair of District 15 MVPs — Paige Hall and Addison Coulter.
Changes on the court were surrounded by renovations to the gym. The Lady Trojans welcomed the Dyer County Lady Choctaws into the facility featuring newly painted walls, grand stands and roof.
The lower stands were filled with black and gold faithful ready to root on the varsity squad composed of Ally Marona, Lexi Peerey, Avery Smith, Fabiola Villa, Sierra Wilburn, Kennedy Lamar, Makayla Hill, AJ Hammond, Hannah Clifton and Haley Adkins.
Millington gave its fans a few moments to cheer about throughout the three sets. But the Class 3A Lady Choctaws overwhelmed the Lady Trojans to prevail 25-18, 25-9 and 25-10.
“These kids fought so hard,” Wade said. “They did almost everything right. They just got on the wrong side of a lot of those rallies. I am proud of them.”
After Dyer County jumped out 6-2 in the first set, Millington rallied to make the score 8-6 highlighted by a back-row kill from Maddy Clifton.
Lady in the frame, Lady Trojan Fabiola Villa served up an ace to make the score 11-9 in favor of Dyer County. Millington tied the set at 11-11.
The Lady Choctaws outscored Millington 14-7 down the stretch to take the opening set. The second set began as a seesaw affair with the score 4-3. Then Dyer County proceeded with a 6-0 run featuring a last-second save by Lady Choctaw Katelyn Anderson.
Dyer County kept the pressure on Millington by attacking the net throughout the second set to win it 25-9.
In the third set, Millington kept pace early before Dyer County went ahead 13-6. The Lady Trojans kept fighting illustrated by a diving save by senior Hannah Clifton to score a point. But the Lady Choctaws closed out the action winning 25-10.
“They stood up to the test,” Wade said. “They did very well but just came out on the wrong end of key rallies.”
Wade noted Dyer County was a good opening opponent coming from a bigger league and having a competitive, athletic squad. She added her senior setters Hannah Clifton and Sierra Wilburn will be crucial to the success of her team in 2018 assisting the young talent.
Millington will feature multiple lineups and incorporate various players building toward a run at defending the championship.
“They’ve been working really hard in practice,” Wade concluded. “They’ve been giving me everything they’ve got. I’m happy with the work I’ve seen them do. I’m so excited about this season.”