By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Late in the summer Shayna Stewart inherited a young Munford Lady Cougar Volleyball team.
Incorporating her philosophy and approach to the game in short order, Stewart debuted with her new squad Aug. 16 in the Munford Gymnasium against area rival the Millington Lady Trojans. The season-opening contest was won by the Lady Trojans in five thrilling sets.
Over the next four weeks, the growing pains for the Lady Cougars have been tough going winless entering the Sept. 13 rematch against the Lady Trojans. But Stewart and her players walked into the William Osteen Gymnasium confident because all the tough lessons are starting to pay off. Munford displayed composure when Millington rallied. And the Lady Cougars communicated better in the rematch leading to a three-set victory 25-14, 25-14 and 25-16.
“We definitely communicate and move a lot better together,” Stewart said. “I see them come together as a team. And in volleyball we know that’s the most important thing, if you can’t play as a team you won’t go that very far.
“Now they’re working a lot better together,” she added. “They’re moving together. Their intensity and fire for the game has grown so much. It has finally clicked for them, ‘We’ve got this. We can do this.’ They’ve grown a lot in a month.”
The Lady Cougars were led by players like Corbin Michael, Emily Turner, Kyndall Lee and Aulbre Patterson throughout the evening. Michael was the spark plug boosting Munford in the opening set with serves and kills. The Lady Cougars led 20-9 after a Michael spike.
The first set concluded 25-14 in the favor of Munford. The second set was close with the Lady Trojans holding a 13-12 advantage behind solid play and leadership from the senior trio of Savannah Spearman, Emily Denson and Abbie Gallo.
In August the Lady Cougars unraveled in similar situations. In the rematch the Lady Cougars communicated and seized the service line to pull away with a 13-1 run.
“Absolutely, they get better every single day and come in wanting to get better every single day,” Stewart noted. “That young mindset and young mentality really helps with that because there is room for them to grow. They want to be the best individually and the best team. It’s exciting.”
Munford was excited and composed in the third set, transforming a 14-10 lead into a 25-16 victory to close out the game. With her first victory as the head coach of the Lady Cougars, Stewart said the progression will continue for her youthful group heading into October and the postseason.
“Deadly – honestly if we keep improving every single day and moving like we move, getting better it can be something serious,” she concluded. “I have high hopes for this team.”
Bolton came down 385 to the William L Osteen Gymnasium complex for a doubleheader matchup vs Millington and the Trojans made sure they left empty handed. It was a complete team effort in both matches as everyone on the Trojan roster either had an assist, ace, kill or dig. Millington won 25-9, 25-9 and 25-15 in the first match and 25-12, 25-6 and 25-10 in the second match.
The sophomore class stepped up big time .Anna Speight had a total of 24 assists and 7 aces, Janie Smith had 19 assists, 8 aces and 5 kills and Kaira Lopez 10 aces and 16 digs on the day. Senior Emily Denson had 14 aces as well.
Millington improves to 5-3 on the year and 4-2 in district play with a huge game at Covington on Thursday, September 16. The Chargers swept the Trojans back on August 24 and Millington is looking for some payback.