Five for five is a great start.
That’s how many Daily Corinthian area volleyball teams began their playoff experiences Tuesday and all five came away victorious, moving on to round two matches on Thursday. But not only did each one win, but each also won in straight sets.
It was easier for some than others but a sweep is a sweep and now Kossuth, Alcorn Central, Biggersville, Walnut and Tishomingo County will stay alive in their search for a state championship.
For the Lady Wildcats, make that two state championships. They won the 2A state title last October.
The following are summaries of each match played Tuesday, beginning at Kossuth High School, the Region 1-3A champions for 2021.
Kossuth 3, Yazoo County 0
Coach Dawnell Haupt’s Lady Aggies appear to be almost completely molded in her image as they execute the faster, more physical pace of volleyball she brought with her from her coaching days in Arizona, where they play a bit differently than most teams in the south.
The Lady Panthers made a match of it early, staying close enough to make it interesting, dropping a 25-18 decision in set one.
Kossuth began to settle in, perhaps shaking off whatever rust may have gathered since their match last Thursday taking the final two sets 25-10 and 25-3 to finish off the visitors.
Eight different KHS players had blocks in the match, led by seven apiece from Bailey Wilbanks and Aven Mathis while Emma Arthur led in the assist department with 12. Wilbanks also paced Kossuth in aces with nine.
“We continue to build on the momentum we have created this season,” said Haupt in a brief but to-the-point remark on how her club played in their first playoff match in several years.
The No. 2 (3A) Lady Aggies will remain home for a round two match against Amory Thursday. The Lady Panthers, also a number one seed, swept Byhalia 3-0 to advance.
Alcorn Central 3, Winona 0
The Lady Bears made short work of the host team by winning in straight sets (25-10, 25-10, 25-9) over the Lady Tigers.
They return home Thursday to host Water Valley, a 3-0 winner Tuesday over Hatley.
“We started fast each set and played pretty well most of the night although we have a few things we need to clean up before Thursday,” said AC head coach Eric Lancaster. “We were able to play everybody and, for the most part, we played Alcorn Central volleyball.”
Player of the Year candidate Mia Griffin led Central with 13 kills while Amelia Lancaster was steady as usual with 25 assists. Sydney Howie had nine digs, while Cayleigh Shipman led with seven aces.
The No. 1 (3A) Lady Bears will host Water Valley Thursday at 6:30.
Walnut 3, East Webster 0
Much like Kossuth, the Lady Wildcats – coached by Kelley Hopper, who once led the Lady Aggies to the playoffs – took a set to come to life and shake off the rust as they swept the Lady Wolverines 3-0 (25-21, 25-7, 25-6).
“The first set was a bit chaotic, more than we would have liked,” said Hopper. “They (East Webster had a lot to do with that. But from that point, we seemed to settle down and play our game. Our defense played well. We had to dig a little deeper tonight than we planned.”
Maddi Kate Vuncannon served out the last 12 points of the third and final set of the match as Walnut won going away. Vuncannon, who missed the Lady ‘Cats run to the state championship last year due to injury, led WHS with eight aces and six digs while Madison Weeks added 17 assists and Laura Leigh Hughes registered seven kills. Belle Martindale led Walnut with six assists.
The Lady Wildcats will travel to face East Union Thursday at 6 p.m.
Biggersville 3, South Delta 0
Biggersville, who made the four-hour bus ride to Rolling Fork – a 30-minute drive from Vicksburg, sat their starters for the final two sets, giving their reserves plenty of needed game reps, as they swept South Delta 3-0 on the road by set scores of 25-7, 25-22 and 25-10.
“They (South Delta) are a first-year program and had most of their matches canceled this year due to COVID so they struggled most of the afternoon,” said Lady Lions head coach Brandon Nash. “My starters played until around point 15 of the first set and that’s when I began to use our back-ups for the remainder of the match. Our second and third stringers played the vast majority of the final two sets and played well.”
To that point reserves, Presley Rhodes and Seria Hastings paced BHS with 10 assists and seven aces respectively.
By defeating the Lady Bulldogs, the Lady Lions earned the right to host a second-round match for the second year in a row. Their opponent, for the second straight year, will be Hickory Flat. The match is set for Thursday at 6.
Tishomingo County 3, South Pontotoc 0The Lady Braves return to the volleyball postseason was a triumphant one as they won in straight sets (25-15, 25-21, 25-22). As a result, they will host perennial 4A power Pontotoc Thursday at 6 at the TCHS gym, affectionately known as The TeePee.
“We played pretty well but they (Lady Cougars) were a tough out on the road,” said TC head coach Brian Middleton, who has his squad back in the playoffs for the first time in several seasons. “It was a fun match and now we get to host a really good Pontotoc team Thursday.”
The Lady Warriors advanced with a 3-0 win over Greenwood.