By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
SOUTHAVEN – Tupelo has missed Kelsey Burnis’ powerful jump serve this season.
Thursday night, in a crucial Class III, Region 1 volleyball match, the Lady Wave welcomed it back.
It was an ace by Burnis, who had shelved her jump serve because of a shoulder injury, that lifted the Lady Wave to a 3-2 victory with a 19-17 win in the fifth and deciding game.
“This was the first match that she’s felt comfortable enough to jump serve,” Tupelo coach Laurie Bishop said. “I’m glad to see that it’s back in our arsenal.
“It’s a tough serve to receive.”
Burnis, a senior, recorded four aces and had just three service errors in her 19 attempts.
“My back muscles just haven’t been strong enough to jump serve this season,” she said. “I prefer the jump serve. I love to see the opponent’s faces.”
Southaven coach Allison Burchyett said a jump serve, with its top spin, is tough to return.
“(Burnis) has a really good serve,” she said. “It’s a good, aggressive serve that drops on you.”
Tupelo lost the first game 25-20, but rallied for back-to-back 25-17 wins to take a 2-1 lead behind 6-foot-3 Hannah Farmer, who tied her career record of 21 kills. She also added 12 blocks. The Lady Chargers took the fourth game 25-20 to force the 15-point fifth game.
Tupelo improved to 13-3 overall and to 2-1 in the region. Southaven fell to 14-4 and 1-2. DeSoto Central leads the region with a perfect record.
Bishop says the victory puts the Lady Wave in the region’s “passenger seat” in the race for one of the league’s two postseason berths. The Wave hosts Southaven Sept. 13 and plays at DeSoto Central Sept. 27.
“We’re fighting right now to stay in it with DeSoto Central and Southaven,” she said.
Tupelo, the defending Class III state champion, knows what’s at stake in every region game, Burnis added.
“This was an important game for us to win,” she said. “We pushed ourselves really hard today. This shows us what we can accomplish as a team.”