PONTOTOC - The Hickory Flat Lady Rebels made a ton of noise on the volleyball court a season ago but last Saturday, Aug. 10, marked the start of a new season with high expectations. At the Pontotoc Classic, the Lady Rebels were tested by two 4A powers Tishomingo County and Corinth, and were able to come away with a split in the two matches.
Hickory Flat knocked out Tishomingo County 2-1 and followed that with a 2-0 loss to Corinth to finish their season-opening matches.
In the first set against the Lady Braves, Hickory Flat dropped a back-and-forth affair 25-18. Down 1-0, the Lady Rebels were able to rebound and take the second set 25-19 before capping the win with a 15-11 victory in the third and final set.
"I think our turning point was our energy," said Hickory Flat head coach Jamie Hayles. "That energy leads to us talking more and communicating better and that was what we did to get things going back in our favor."
The second match of the day saw Hickory Flat stumble against a talented Corinth team. The Lady Warriors built a six-point lead in the first set before the Lady Rebels came back to knot the score at 13-13. From there, Corinth ripped off a 9-1 run to take control of the first set and went on to win 25-18. The second set started with Hickory Flat picking up two quick points on an Emma Wilson kill and an Erin Hancock ace but Corinth had their way the rest of the set, building as large as a 12-point lead to go on and win the set 25-14.
The Lady Rebels ended last season at the Class 1 semifinals and have similar aspirations this season. With that big of a goal, Hickory Flat's non-division schedule is littered with larger schools and talented opponents for a good reason. That level of competition is one that Hayles hopes gets her team ready but the expectation to win still remains.
"Those two teams are both powerhouses but I feel like even though Hickory Flat is a 1A school, we are a powerhouse as well," said Hayles. "We just have to get that in our minds, that we can do everything they do. We have to get that confidence and we will get there. Today was good for us."