Lady Wave gets test from young Bulldogs team

New Albany’s Christina Jefferies spikes the ball while Tupelo’s Kerrigan Buck sets up for the block. (Lauren Wood)

New Albany’s Christina Jefferies spikes the ball while Tupelo’s Kerrigan Buck sets up for the block. (Lauren Wood)

By GENE PHELPS
Daily Journal

TUPELO – New Albany coach Shay Ashford hates losing, but Thursday’s close high school volleyball loss to Tupelo – her alma mater – didn’t sting so bad.

The visiting Lady Bulldogs, a second-year program, gave the Lady Wave a fight before falling 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-20).

“I don’t like to lose, but I was proud of that loss,” Ashford said postgame. “We haven’t played this well … ever. It was great.”

New Albany (0-2) fell behind 9-2 in the first game, but rallied to cut Tupelo’s lead to 23-21. The Lady Wave answered with Kaitlyn Wilson’s kill and Georgeanna Bowen’s service ace to win by four.

Tupelo (3-3) fell behind 15-10 in the second game. Miriah O’Neal’s tip-in tied the score at 20-20 as the Wave scored the final six points.

“New Albany has a solid defensive team,” said Tupelo coach Laurie Bishop, a Lady Wave teammate of Ashford’s in Tupelo’s 2001 state championship season. “I can’t even count the number of errors we had. I think we had the jitters and it affected our play.

“There’s a lot of heart and a lot of fight in New Albany.”

There’s also a lot of height. The Bulldogs’ lineup features 6-foot-1 Darby Mills, 5-11 Emma Wilson and 6-foot Erin Michael Carter.

Short-handed
Ashford said two key players were missing because of softball – a libero and a server.

“This team is so athletic,” she said. “They want to play.”

Tupelo struggled early in the third game and fell behind 13-6 before starting a rally on a service ace by Morgan Hereford. The Lady Wave tied the score at 16-16.

Bowen, who recorded a team-high five blocks, gave Tupelo the match at 25-20 on back-to-back blocked shots.

“New Albany did a good job tipping and covering; we didn’t expect it,” she said. “In the third (game), we decided it needed to end. We picked it up.”

gene.phelps.journalinc.com