Volleyball opens season in Pontotoc

The volleyball season opened over the weekend, and for the first year program at New Albany, history was made in the team’s second game of the day.

Facing Ackerman and H.W. Byers in a preseason tournament at Pontotoc, the Lady Bulldogs split on the day, falling to the Indians, 2-0 [25-9, 25-12] and shutting out the Lady Bears only a couple of hours later, 2-0 [25-20, 25-22], giving the school its historic first win.

“Their confidence is through the roof after this,” New Albany Coach Lashay Ashford said. “I’ve been telling them it’s all about serving. I’ve told them since day one, if you can’t serve, it’s hard to win a game; if you can receive a serve, it’s hard to win a game. Now they see that serving is the key ingredient to winning a game, and today, I think, we missed three serves in a match, when we normally miss around 16 to 17.”

The Lady Bulldogs scrimmaged in Corinth only a week ago. A humble experience for the team, they returned to they gym more focused.

“I’ve seen more determination and commitment in the last week,” Ashford said. ‘When they went to Corinth, it was an eye opening experience for them, so they came out in practice last week more determined to practice, because they see now what it is they need to do to be successful.”

Among the group playing this year are four seniors, who want to not only learn a new sport in their final year at NAHS, but also to be as successful as possible.

“We’ve always done the same sports, and with this being something new, we figured we’d give it a try,” Olivia Dumman said. “It’s our senior year, so it’s the last time to try and do as much as we can.”

Dunnam serves as one of the team captains, along with junior Erin Michael Carter. Another senior filling an important role is Shannon Goode, who plays as the team’s libero. As if that is not enough, Goode and several of her teammates are juggling two sports at once, also playing slow pitch softball this fall.

“They’re going to work with us and allow us to do both, and they’re going to give us a chance to do as much as we can for each team,” she said. “Volleyball has been great so far, because it’s helping to keep us in shape for all of our other sports.”

And the duo admits it was an interesting experience over the summer, learning a new sport.

“It’s all about angles and when to be in a certain place, so it’s been fun to watch all of us come together and figure it out,” Goode said.

Added Dunnam, “We’re learning everyday. It’s different, but it’s been fun.”

New Albany will next play at Tishomingo County on Monday.