By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
SOUTHAVEN – Ashley James said she and her Southaven teammates were intimidated by Tupelo in their Aug. 30 loss to the Lady Wave.
“We went there thinking we didn’t have a chance,” James said.
Tupelo won the MHSAA Class III Division I match 3-1 on its home court. Southaven was anything but timid in its Thursday rematch against the unbeaten Lady Wave, the nation’s No. 25-ranked team by MaxPreps, smashing the visitors 3-0 behind a 21-kill effort by James.
“We played kind of rattled the first time,” a smiling James added. “We all showed up tonight.”
Tupelo (22-1, 5-1 division) came into the match having lost just five games the entire season and never more than one in a match.
“I think they (Southaven) wanted it,” Tupelo first-year coach Laurie Bishop said. “We were not on our game. This gives us something to work on, something to work toward.”
Southaven (18-4, 5-1) took control of the division lead with the victory and would win the tiebreaker against Tupelo if both teams should win out.
“We still have a lot of matches to play,” Southaven coach Allison Burchyett said. “We play DeSoto Central next Tuesday and they were here watching tonight.”
Still, the victory was a confidence builder for the once-intimidated Lady Chargers.
“We knew we had nothing to lose,” Burchyett said. “I told them to go out there and play as hard as you can.
“We knew we had to be on offense to keep the Farmers from being on offense.”
Burchyett was referring to Tupelo middle blockers Sarah Farmer and Hannah Farmer. The sisters combined for 36 kills in the match – Sarah 20, Hannah 16 – but it wasn’t nearly enough to cool the red-hot Chargers.
Tupelo struggled the entire match with its serving and its passing.
“That really threw us off,” Bishop said. “We were not able to set up our offense. We did not play our game.”
Southaven won the first game 25-17, winning the last seven points. Two of those came on kills by Courtney Billups and back-to-back service aces by James.
“We wanted to hit angles, hit it away from the Farmers,” said Billups, who had 13 kills.
The Lady Chargers captured the second game 25-22, winning on a kill shot by Billups, to go up 2-0.
Three late kills by Hannah Farmer couldn’t save the Lady Wave in the second game.
In the third game, a 25-18 Tupelo loss, the Lady Wave pulled to within 22-18 on two shots by Sarah Farmer, but the Lady Chargers rallied behind James, who registered three straight kills to end the match.