It took eight games, but Starkville High's volleyball team finally proved to be mortal at home Thursday night against division rival Tupelo.
Against the defending Class III state champions, the Lady Yellowjackets fell in straight sets, 25-20, 25-21, and 25-17.
The loss was Starkville's first in the Beehive this season after opening the year with seven straight home wins.
"Starkville is the best defensive team in the state and they give us all kinds of problems," said Tupelo head coach Clint Jordon. "Every time we play them, they give us fits, so it was good to get this win."
Tupelo (25-3, 2-0) sprinted out to a quick 4-0 advantage to begin the first set. The Lady Jackets battled back from the early hole to take a 7-6 lead midway through the initial set before the Lady Wave again got four unanswered points to go up 10-7 en route to claiming the set victory.
Both coaches cited the second set as the turning point of the match.
The Lady Jackets claimed 13 of the set's first 19 points for a 13-6 lead before Tupelo halted the SHS surge with a 19-8 run to clinch set two.
"Anytime you lose the momentum or a significant lead, it's always disappointing," said Starkville head coach Lauren Love. "But we hit the ball and we dug the ball, so we'll just look forward to next time."
Jordon says Love's squad did a good job of getting his Lady Wave out of their rhythm in the second set.
"Starkville did a great job of digging everything we hit and it frustrated us," said Jordon. "That's what they do so very well. After that, we got our confidence back up."
Tupelo seized control of the third set early. Starkville made a late push that closed a five-point deficit to 17-15, but the Lady Wave closed out the match with an 8-2 run.
In defeat, the Lady Jackets got another solid performance from Wheeler Richardson. The junior setter tallied 17 digs, 10 assists, and four kills.
Elizabeth Scott and McKay Richardson also reached double-figures in digs, with 17 and 11 respectively.
Khristian Carr added four kills for SHS.
Starkville played the match without the services of injured junior libero Grace Drumheller.
Love says it's never easy to go into a match without a regular member of the lineup, but that challenges like that simply have to be overcome.
"Whenever there is change, you just always need to adapt to adversity," said Love.
The Lady Jackets will again get a shot at the Lady Wave in their next match, next Thursday in Tupelo.
Love says it will be interesting to see how her club responds to Thursday's loss as they prepare for the rematch in six days.
"Everything is still pretty immediate right now," Love said. "So we'll just have to see how we respond when we get to the gym on Monday. That will be our test."