By JOEL COLEMAN
The Starkville High volleyball team has put itself in prime position.
After defeating Callaway Monday night at home in the Starkville Sportsplex Gym, the Lady Yellowjackets secured at least a share of the region championship and can claim the title outright with a win in tonight's regular-season finale against Ridgeland.
"It's all kind of like in a volleyball match," said SHS head coach Lauren Love. "You have to win three sets and you've got to play all the way through because momentum can always change.
"We're focused. We know that it's there and we are capable of doing it. We've just got to be sure that, like we take one point at a time, just take one match at a time to do so."
Starkville (18-10 overall, 7-0 in region play) definitely stayed focused on the task at hand on Monday, disposing of Callaway (12-4 overall, 6-2 in region play) in straight sets.
The Lady Jackets defeated the Lady Chargers 25-11 in the first set, 25-19 in the second set and 25-17 in the third set.
"(Callaway) hustled," said Love. "They brought the ball back fast and they're real athletic. It was good that we were just able to get to our spots and serve tough. That's what really helped us was our tough serving, which kind of took them out of their fast-paced game."
Wheeler Richardson helped carry SHS to the win, recording 26 assists, 12 aces and five kills.
Khristian Carr added 10 kills and four aces for Starkville, while Margaret Allison had eight kills and five digs, Michaela Mills had five kills, three aces and six digs, and April Reese had six kills.
All of this came after a week-long layoff for the Lady Jackets.
Before Monday, Starkville hadn't played a match since topping Yazoo City in straight sets on Sept. 26.
"It didn't seem the time off really bothered us," said Love. "Maybe it was a good mental break for all of us involved."
Now, Love and the Lady Jackets hope they'll fare just as well playing on back-to-back days with tonight's key matchup against Ridgeland.
"(Ridgeland) serves tough," said Love. "We were neck-and-neck with them earlier this year, so it'll be a fight. We're looking forward to it and looking forward to playing a faster-paced match."
Tonight's action in the Starkville Sportsplex Gym begins with a junior varsity match at 5:30 p.m.
Following that, the Lady Jackets will host Senior Night festivities ahead of the varsity match.
If Starkville can wrap up the region crown, the Lady Jackets will host a first-round playoff match on Saturday at Mississippi State's Newell-Grissom Gymnasium.
That match would be played at 1 p.m. against Hernando.