SOUTHAVEN – The results may not have shown it, but Saturday was a productive day for the Starkville High volleyball team according to head coach Lauren Love.
Playing in the Southaven Invitational without the services of seniors Wheeler Richardson, Grace Drumheller and Margaret Allison, who were unavailable as they took standardized tests, the Lady Jackets lost all four of their matches in Saturday's event.
SHS fell in pool play to Hutchinson 2-0 (17-25, 14-25), Horn Lake 2-1 (25-10, 13-25, 11-15) and Center Hill 2-0 (17-25, 14-25) before losing in the quarterfinals to Oxford 2-1 (25-21, 16-25, 10-15).
The defeats dropped the Lady Jackets' overall record to 13-10.
Despite the unfavorable outcomes, Love saw growth from the younger Lady Jackets pressed into service due to the absences of Richardson, Drumheller and Allison.
"We might not have had a winning record (in the tournament), but our program, as a whole, definitely improved," said Love. "We did make entirely too many errors, but errors happen. That just goes along with inexperience.
"We really missed the on-court experience that our seniors provide, but what the rest of the team didn't have in experience out there, they made up for with heart. Our younger girls now know what they're capable of and know what it takes to be competitive."
In addition, Love was able to see her players display traits of endurance and adaptability throughout Saturday's matches.
"The two players that stayed and played the whole round were April (Reese) and Khris (Carr)," said Love. "So an 8th grader and a 9th grader were our foundation.
"Michaela Mills, who is normally an outside hitter, she stepped in and set and did a great job. Jamiyah Covington played all the way around. Stacie Young stepped in and played the right side. Vivian Barksdale played back row. Vicky Vo and Kiana Bridges, they shared the outside positions, front and back row respectively. So it was a great opportunity for girls who haven't really gotten on-court experience that much this season, to get them some playing time."
Statistically, virtually everyone contributed in some fashion.
Against Hutchinson, Carr had a team-leading seven digs to go along with a pair of aces and a kill.
Mills added four assists and three digs in the match for SHS, while Vo had three digs and Reese had four digs and two kills.
Carr continued her solid play against Horn Lake, tallying eight kills, two aces and two digs.
Mills had 13 assists and two kills against Horn Lake, while Reese added five digs, four kills and three aces and Covington notched four kills and four digs.
Young had two kills in the match for SHS as Bridges recorded two kills and two digs.
Facing Center Hill, Carr had three kills, two blocks and a dig, Mills had five digs and a block, Covington had four digs and a kill, and Barksdale had a pair of digs.
In the final match of the day, against Oxford, Mills had 10 assists, four aces, three kills, three digs and a block.
Reese had two aces, three kills, two blocks and four digs, Carr had five kills, six digs and a block, Covington had five kills and three digs, and Vo had five aces, three digs and a kill.
Following Saturday's action, SHS returns to play Monday, hosting district opponent Canton at 5:30 p.m. at the Starkville Sportsplex Gym.