TUPELO – A recent trip to Alabama wasn’t productive in the win column, but it may have prepared Tupelo for volleyball’s postseason.
The Lady Wave suffered four losses two weeks ago in a tournament at Wallace State Community College, but the team exited the event with a new, up-tempo scheme.
“The teams we played there were a lot quicker offensively,” Tupelo coach Clint Jordan said. “They set the ball lower. They work on the timing of their hitting more than hitting with power.”
Jordan calls it a “low, fast” style.
His Lady Wave, which has adopted Alabama’s attack, used it to defeat Division 2 rival Columbus 3-0 (25-10, 25-4, 25-8) Tuesday in its final regular season match.
Tupelo, now 21-9, hosts Madison Central at noon Saturday in the opening round of the MHSAA Class III state playoffs.
“Everyone (in Alabama) was playing that low, fast game,” Jordan said. “We couldn’t catch up. They were all so fast.”
Prior to its trip across the state line, Tupelo relied more on athleticism and defense. It’s a style of play most Mississippi teams use. Jordan believes the faster pace could give his team an edge in the playoffs.
“We used to rely on our size and strength,” he said. “We played defense behind big blocks. We didn’t have any chance to block shots over there because of their speed.”
Jordan said the faster-paced game hasn’t reached Mississippi.
“It usually takes about two years for things to filter to us,” he said, then smiled.
Margaret Mary Bridges, a senior, is excited about her team’s new style of play.
“We’re doing a lot better,” she said. “We like the faster tempo. It’s up-beat. You’re ready for the next ball. We’re transferring what we’ve learned into good play in games.”
In the first set of Tuesday’s match against Columbus, Tupelo’s Rachel Farmer blocked two shots from the Lady Falcons’ ace, Tarshayla Stephenson, to help turn a 16-10 lead into a 15-point win.
Tupelo’s fast start, a 12-0 run in the second set, was fueled by the kill shots of Kristina Kosogorova and short set shots by Hannah Farmer.
The Lady Wave raced to a 12-2 lead in the third set to finish the regular season 6-0 in division play against Columbus, Starkville and South Panola.
“We’re playing really well right now,” Jordan said. “It’s a good time to be playing well.”
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal