October 14, 2012 1:19:43 AM
STARKVILLE -- After a first-set statement Saturday afternoon, the Starkville High School volleyball team lost three straight sets to Center Hill on Saturday and crashed out of the second round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class II playoffs.
Starkville (19-12) fell to Center Hill 25-18, 5-25, 21-25, 23-25, and saw a late, fourth-set rally fall short. The Lady Jackets had a disastrous second set that included 12 unforced errors.
"It was very tough," said Starkville High hitter Khris Carr, who had a team-high 13 kills. "Our momentum was down, our attitudes were negative. At that point, we didn't give up, but we weren't there mentally. We fought for as many points as we could that second match. We didn't give up."
Starkville coach Lauren Love said the problems weren't isolated in the pivotal second set.
"I wish I didn't have to talk about that second set, but we lost focus," Love said. "They're (Center Hill) a great team, and you can't lose focus on s single point, let alone a run of points with a team like that. We had several serving errors and net calls. We didn't take care of our side."
Starkville looked to rebound in the third set, pulling within 23-21 after an April Reese block. But kills from Jordan Reynolds and Zeniyia Lyons helped the Mustangs (18-16) close the set.
Down 24-18 in the fourth set, the Lady Jackets rallied to within one after an ace from Carr and a tip from Stacie Young. But an unforced error ended their chances of advancing in the playoffs for the first time under Love.
"I don't think it carried over into the other two sets, and that shows the maturity of this team," Love said. "They regained their composure and started playing to win."
Starkville struggled to stay organized and feed Carr on the outside. The velocity on Carr's swings were indefensible.
"Center Hill is a scrappy team, and in volleyball scrappy is great," Love said. "It was hard to put a ball down, though Khris did have a great day swinging."
Reese finished with eight kills and nine digs. Courtney Wilson had a team-high 18 digs.