By JOEL COLEMAN
With the regular season winding down and each game becoming more and more important, the Starkville High volleyball team showed no signs of cracking under pressure Monday.
Hosting district opponent Yazoo City, the Lady Yellowjackets claimed a win in straight sets (25-3, 25-7, 25-7).
"We just played well," said Starkville head coach Lauren Love. "We served well, and when you serve well, that really gets the momentum swinging your way. That was one really positive aspect for us (Monday)."
Behind SHS's strong service game, the Lady Jackets overmatched the Lady Indians throughout Monday's match.
Mounting such a large lead in each set even gave Love the opportunity to experiment a bit.
"We tried some new hitting options," said Love. "We tried a few new offensive attacks and they didn't work out, but I like that the girls are feeling comfortable to try new things."
Several Lady Jackets had big nights to give SHS the opportunity to try out new strategies.
Wheeler Richardson had 16 points, 10 assists, nine aces, seven digs and three kills for Starkville, while April Reese tallied 20 points, seven aces, four digs and four kills.
Khristian Carr added six points, seven kills, three aces and four digs for the Lady Jackets, and Michaela Mills recorded five points, five assists, four digs, two kills and an ace.
Such performances helped improve Starkville's record to 17-10 overall and 6-0 in district play.
SHS is also still unbeaten at home, where they'll play a pair of critical division matches next week.
The Lady Jackets, who currently sit atop their district standings, will play Callaway next Monday before hosting Ridgeland the following night.
While it'll be a week before SHS plays again, Love says she's not too worried about her club dropping its guard down once the matches begin again.
Even with Starkville's homecoming activities taking place this week, Love believes the Lady Jackets have what it takes to keep their minds right with a division title at stake.
"That's the fun thing about high school athletics," said Love. "There's always lots of things going on.
"It'll be interesting to see (the team's) focus. Now they get to have fun and get that mental break from volleyball. Hopefully, they'll be able to come back in, play hard and our season will last a little bit longer."