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By DANNY P. SMITH
The Starkville Academy Lady Volunteers may be a little sore going into today's playoff soccer match at Madison-Ridgeland Academy.
One thing the Lady Vols won't have to be worried about too much is the heat.
Starkville Academy opened the home schedule on August 20 against MRA and the heat index number was over 100 degrees.
The Lady Vols struggled to keep players on the field that day because of the conditions and ended up losing a 3-1 decision.
With the calendar flipping to October a few days ago, SA coach Robert Gardner expects a different feel for today's 4:30 p.m. postseason meeting.
"It should be about 30 degrees cooler," Gardner said. "(August 20) was a tough day and we had girls dropping like filies as far as not being able to handle the heat.
"We're hoping to get momentum for this week. We tend to respond well in these type of situations. I'm looking forward to the challenge."
After last Saturday's 3-0 loss at Jackson Prep, the Lady Vols stand at 7-5 overall and 4-4 in Division II-AAA.
It has been a tough season for Starkville Academy in terms of injuries as up to five players have had ankle issues at some point.
With four matches in six games, Gardner said staying healthy has been a concern.
"The truth be known, it has been hard on us and it's been tough to deal with so many injuries," Gardner said. "That was one thing we didn't have to deal with at all last year."
Even though they have been out parts of the season, Gardner expects to have Sallie Kate Richardson, Tiffany Huddleston and Bailey Clark available against MRA. The only player questionable is Jordan Jackson, pending the report she got on her injured ankle Monday.
"If it checks out and we get it wrapped up, she'll go if she's comfortable," Gardner said.
Despite the adversity that has crept up from time to time this season, Gardner has faith that the Lady Vols will respond in the right way.
"I'm always going to feel confident about our girls because I know we have a good team," Gardner said.