Starkville High volleyball fans with a nervous fingernail-chewing habit could rest easy Thursday night.
The Lady Yellowjackets eliminated the need for nibbling with a relatively easy, straight-sets win over West Lowndes.
"This is a good win, especially in the beginning of the season," said Starkville head coach Lauren Love. "A lot of times early in the year, your fiercest opponent is your own team. Just trying to keep our confidence levels up, staying focused, getting our serves, and taking care of our side is something we stress all the time, especially in practice yesterday and I think it prepared us well for this match."
Starkville (4-3) sent an early message to the Lady Panthers that there would be no West Lowndes victory celebration in the Beehive on this night.
The Lady Jackets took the first set 25-12 and never looked back. In the second set, SHS cruised to a 25-8 win, and followed that with a 25-9 victory in the third set, clinched on Margaret Allison's match-ending ace.
"It's pretty impossible to coach motivation and focus," said Love. "For the girls to pull from within and stay intense the entire time is great."
Both Wheeler Richardson and McKay Richardson each put forth strong performances for the Lady Jackets. Wheeler Richardson notched 18 assists and eight aces, while McKay Richardson added eight aces and six kills.
Elizabeth Scott tallied six kills and three digs, while Rebecca Myles had four aces and five kills.
While strong numbers aren't uncommon for Love's veterans, the second-year Lady Jackets coach was quick to praise some of her younger players like freshman McKay Richardson and eighth grader Khristian Carr after Thursday's win.
"We're a little spread out age-wise, but we do have some of these younger players that we look for to contribute, and they did well," said Love. "McKay was a vital part of this team last year, so this year we definitely look to her and there's a little more pressure on her."
Thursday's win marks Starkville's second consecutive win in straight sets after dispatching Corinth in the same manner in the home opener Tuesday. Love says she hopes two big wins doesn't allow her team to become complacent.
"It's always a great starting point to be able to open up 2-0 (at home)," said Love. "But tomorrow is a new day. We celebrate this win one day, but tomorrow we have to get right back in the gym because there's always new opponents waiting throughout the season."
Starkville returns to action on Tuesday at home against Meridian. Junior varsity play begins at 5:30 p.m. with varsity immediately following.