By Gene Phelps
BELMONT – Moesha Phillips recorded 17 kills Tuesday, but the last two were the most memorable.
Lafayette’s senior set up her own kill with a set pass to Emily Robinson. Phillips, on a set from her teammate, then hit the kill shot that gave the Lady Commodores a 14-10 lead in an eventual 15-13 match-clinching victory against Belmont in the first round of the MHSAA Class I North Mississippi volleyball playoffs.
“I had to get the ball to my setter and trust she would make a play,” Phillips said. “We had to put everything on the floor. Being a senior, I felt like I had to carry my team.”
Phillips’ final kill gave Lafayette (26-6) its 15th and winning point and the 3-2 victory. The Lady Commodores advance to play H.W. Byers, a 3-2 winner against Cleveland.
Lafayette coach Aimee Scribner, whose team rallied after falling 25-12 in the first set, has come to expect big plays from Phillips.
“She has the ability to do it. I’m glad it was tonight,” she said.
Belmont (20-7) overcame five service errors in the fourth game to take a 25-19 win and force the deciding fifth game. The Lady Cardinals led 24-14 late on the strength of a kill by Katelyn Nunley and a service ace by Torie Powers.
Lafayette won the third game 25-16, closing it out with a kill from Rae Drewrey and a blocked shot by Ashley Carter.
Phillips recorded four kills and the Lady Commodores scored 10 consecutive points with Drewrey serving to build a 22-13 lead in the second game. Belmont rallied to close the gap, but fell 25-21.
Belmont had six service aces, three from Cassandra Smith, in the first game. Her aces gave the Lady Cardinals a 13-5 lead. Two late shots by Irene Oppi sealed the first game win, 25-12.
“Both teams were evenly matched. It came down to who made the fewest mistakes,” Belmont coach Reid Gann said. “It was a highly-competitive match.”