Lady Warriors hand Hattiesburg its first loss

By CAMAL PETRO,

HATTIESBURG – The Hattiesburg Lady Tigers entered Thursday night’s contest with Oak Grove a perfect 6-0 record while not dropping a set all season. After they won the first set 25-12, it looked they were on their way to a seventh win.

The Lady Warriors, however, bounced back to claim the second set, then the fourth and fifth, to knock off the Lady Tigers 3-2 (12-25, 25-15, 21-25, 25-15, 15-9) at Hattiesburg High.

In a strange coincidence, there was almost a direct correlation to Oak Grove’s success and a bat flying around the gym that delayed the game a handful of times. After the tough first set loss, the first of four short interruptions with the bat flying happened during the break between sets. Once the Lady Warriors came back on the court, they started the second on a 6-0 run thanks to three straight aces from eighth-grader Reese Plumlee.

“It was our mascot for the night, I guess,” Oak Grove coach Sherry Wallace said about the bat.

Hattiesburg battled back to cut the Oak Grove to 13-10, but it never could get the score closer than a three-point margin. The Lady Warriors finished the game on a 5-0 run, too.

“They have to start strong and finish strong,” Wallace said she told her team before the second set. “It has to be from the beginning. Every single point, they have to fight for it, 100 percent. We needed to minimize our errors from the beginning.”

In the third set, Hattiesburg jumped out to a 9-5 lead, but once again, the bat flew around the gym to pause the game. Then, Oak Grove came back after the hiatus on another 6-0 run, but the Lady Tigers used a 6-0 run of their own when the game was tied 18-18 to grab control of the set, which they eventually won 25-21.

The third featured eight ties and eight lead changes, too.

With their backs against the wall, the Lady Warriors jumped up 7-2 in the fourth before extending the lead to 14-7. They would cruise to the 25-15 win.

Senior Sarah Grace Rozier led the Lady Warriors with four kills in the set, and she led the offense with 10 kills in the contest. Her first kill in the set came after the bat stopped the game for the third time, then senior Emma Roberts recorded her fifth kill of the game after another stoppage of play.

“I just told them that if they wanted it, they had to fight,” Wallace said. “Show up and show out. It’s our game. They had to prove it to me.”

In the fifth, both Hattiesburg and Oak Grove exchanged points until Oak Grove grabbed an 8-7 lead. Up until then, the two teams had five ties but the Lady Warriors put together two 4-0 runs behind three kills from Roberts.

Roberts finished the night with eight kills.

The Lady Warriors are now 6-4 overall and the Lady Tigers dropped to 6-1 on the season.

“Going into (the game), we had some good practices,” Wallace said. “We were ready. We were prepared mentally and physically. We have the skill and we have the heart, but we just have to keep it up throughout the whole season.”