Ja'Bria Jones twisted her body to make a play. Playing two steps off the net, the middle blocker reached tentatively with her left hand in an effort to keep the ball alive. Jones did more than that. With a flick of her arm, the Columbus High School freshman sealed the deal with one final kill and helped her team defeat West Lowndes 3-2.
A year ago, South Lamar High School volleyball coach Karen Holsonback felt fortunate that her team didn't lose a match to rival Lamar County. Holsonback's team will attempt to continue its success against its rival Thursday when South Lamar hosts Lamar County in the first match of the season for both teams.
Anna McCrary thought her coach was crazy. Sure, she slugged a pitch to the bottom of the fence for an easy extra-base hit, but McCrary didn't think she was quick enough to make it home for an inside-the-park home run. Tabitha Beard thought differently.
STARKVILLE -- The New Hope High School football team showed last season it can win close games. The Trojans won rain-slogged efforts at Saltillo and at Clarksdale and equally tight games against Hernando and Indianola Gentry en route to a second-place finish in Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A, Region 1. Things were even better in the playoffs.
STARKVILLE -- New year, same old story for the West Point High School football team. Led by a 77-yard rushing effort from senior quarterback Justin Cox, West Point grinded it out for 251 yards Saturday en route t a 35-0 victory against Itawamba Agricultural High at the Fall Football Jamboree at Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium. The rushing total was even more impressive considering the Green Wave, the defending Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A state champion, did in only two quarters of varsity action. Eight players had a chance to tote the ball, led by Cox and LaKenderic Thomas, who added 55 yards.
STARKVILLE -- Out of all the teams at the New Hope Fall jamboree, Starkville High School left the biggest stamp on Scott Field. Against three top offensive linemen recruits on a team that went 8-4 last season, the Yellow Jackets looked the like the polished, veteran team by beating Callaway 21-0 on Saturday. As for that vaunted Callaway offensive line? Just 31 rushing yards to show at the end of the two-quarter game.
STARKVILLE -- Jamie Mitchell's Starkville High School football team has gotten mentally and physically tougher, but he will find out just how much progress his squad has made when it faces Jackson Callaway on Saturday at the New Hope High jamboree at Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium.
STARKVILLE -- The Robert Gardner era at Starkville Academy kicked off Thursday with an 11-0 rout of Washington School. The first-year Lady Volunteers' coach watched his side score seven goals in the first half and hold Washington to just one shot on goal in its season opener at the Starkville Sportsplex.
MERIDIAN -- Taylor Baudoin had three goals and an assist Thursday to lead the Immanuel Christian girls soccer team to a 6-1 victory against Russell Christian in its season opener.
MACON -- The Central Academy fast-pitch softball team scored two runs in the first inning and three more in the second Tuesday en route to a 6-0 victory against Oak Hill Academy. Paige Buchanan went the distance in the pitching circle and was the winning pitcher for Central. The leading hitters for Central Academy were Megan Banks with a double and single, Kendall Taylor with a double, and Blake Rigdon with a single.
There is something to be said for a high school football team playing host to a 10-team jamboree at its school. It's another thing when that team gets a chance to play host to the event at Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field.
CALEDONIA -- Marlana Dolan has to be ready for anything. As a setter, she would love to receive perfect passes so she has time to set up and to pick her hitters to help them deliver kills for the Caledonia High School volleyball team. But any setter knows that is a dream that is rarely realized.
STEENS -- The prospect of not having any seniors would scare some coaches and players. But Ray Campbell and his Immanuel Christian girls soccer team are looking forward to the challenge of building with youth.
Rachel Hollivay already is one of the best girls basketball players in the Class of 2012. Ranked in the top 10 by nearly every national recruiting service, the Heritage Academy junior has attracted interest from coaches from all over the country. But Hollivay did something last week that made all of the scouts and coaches take notice.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville Academy and Central Academy posted the only victories Saturday by local teams at the Starkville Academy tournament at the Mississippi State Recreation Complex. Oak Hill and Heritage Academy lost both of their games in the tournament. Starkville Academy opened the day with a 6-4 victory against Central Academy, but it lost its next two games to Leake Academy (2-1) and to Pillow Academy and was ousted from the double-elimination event.
STARKVILLE -- As Starkville Academy's third head coach in the last three seasons, Robert Gardner has the attacking tools to make the Lady Volunteers a postseason threat. But will defense and youth be too much to overcome? One year removed from a Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA playoff berth, the Lady Volunteers are unsettled on who'll man the back line. Also, the team has just one senior (Shelby Carpenter), and no juniors.
Former Hamilton High School baseball standout Dylan Earnest has added another honor to his array of accomplishments. In June, Earnest was chosen to the Louisville Slugger High School All-American team. Earnest, a left-handed pitcher/outfielder, led the Lions to the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 2A title series, where they lost in two games to Richton. He is playing with the Pontotoc Red Sox in the American Legion Mid-South Regional in Grand Prairie, Texas. He will attend Itawamba Community College when he returns.
STARKVILLE -- Jeff Terrill's positive energy is infectious. And it's a good thing as Starkville Academy's football program is attempting to climb out of the valley and to the top of the mountain. Today's home scrimmage against Leake Academy gives the Volunteers their first chance to play against a different team since Terrill took over at the beginning of the year. Eager, hungry, anxious and antsy, the Vols have been buoyed by Terrill's diligence in creating an expectation to be better than they've been since winning a state title in 2005.
CALEDONIA -- Samantha Brooks loves to build. Three seasons ago, Brooks took over as head coach of the Caledonia High School volleyball program with a stable of sophomores. She realized at the time those players had the potential to help establish the foundation for a program. The best thing about sophomores is they become juniors and then seniors.
STARKVILLE -- Playing as a team is a goal every athlete and coach will list at some point of the season. And as cliché and obvious as the concept might seem, a team won't get far with individual play. Starkville High School volleyball coach Lauren Love has been drilling that concept to her squad since she took over last season. Communication is vital for solid team play, but the spirit of playing for one another can help overcome any deficiencies or lack of experience.
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