By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Two playoff teams from last season – one a state champion – staged a small-scale battle Thursday night on the volleyball court.
When the nets came down, Tupelo escaped with a 3-1 victory against visiting Corinth.
The Lady Wave (5-1), the defending MHSAA Class III state champion, defeated the Lady Warriors (4-2), who reached Class I’s second round, 25-15, 25-21, 25-27 and 25-13.
“We’re going to have errors; we’ve got a lot of new people coming up,” said Tupelo middle blocker Hannah Farmer. “We’re learning to work together.
“I’m glad we lost that (third) game. It showed us what we need to work on.”
Farmer, a 6-foot-3 senior, led the Lady Wave with 16 kills and four blocked shots.
Tupelo second-year coach Laurie Bishop, whose team finished 31-1 last season, said her 2012 squad must improve defensively.
“We’ve got to do a better job reading the players and reading hits,” she said. “We’ve been an offensive-minded team and we’re working to transition and become a defensive-minded team.
“(Last year) we had such a powerful offensive team that we didn’t have to put up that much of a defense.”
Corinth, under first-year coach Keith Haney, exploited the Lady Wave’s defensive gaps in the third game.
“We fought back to the very end,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do on our serve-receive. You can’t start an offense if you don’t serve-receive.”
Tupelo took a 14-2 lead in the first game and cruised to a 25-15 win. The Lady Wave struggled after a rotation change in the second game and escaped with a 25-21 edge. Tupelo had six service errors in the game.
Corinth’s front line of JaJa Johnson, Annalee Hendrick and Grace Swanson were the difference in the Warriors’ taking the third game, 27-25.
“When we got our energy, we got back in the game,” Johnson said. “When we stay focused, we have a good team.”