This week will see most of our volleyball teams conclude their 2019 season and I think you could term the season highly successful for all involved.
Was it a success because all made the playoffs? No, only New Albany reached the playoffs and barring an upset on Tuesday night, the Lady Bulldogs will win their third consecutive division title, but first in the newly organized Division 4A. New Albany was a member of Class I in their two previous division championship seasons.
Also, only East Union and Ingomar competed division play this year and neither team qualified as members of Class I Division 2. Myrtle and West Union took the route of independents for their inaugural seasons.
Success for the first year county schools cannot be measured in wins, but in how far they came from the beginning of the season and also in how they enjoyed and embraced the new sport.
Let's start with how they played the game, I saw three of the four county teams in the Bulldog Bash in early August and I can safely say that they looked like teams in their first year of volleyball. They made a few good plays, but they struggled in all aspects on that given day.
Fast forward to the closing days of the season and all team had made marked improvements in their game and a couple of teams developed strengths. Ingomar comes to mind as one of the better serving teams while Myrtle stood apart from their county rivals as tops in the serve-receive game.
Now let's move the the enjoyment and embracing of the new sport, every team that I talked with I got the same answer from coaches and players alike. They loved the game of volleyball, looked forward to practice and wish they had started playing the game earlier. This should make for an interesting offseason and hopefully our county schools will soon be joining New Albany as playoff calibre teams in the years to come as all four teams are loaded with middle schoolers and ninth and tenth graders.
We will close with a salute to our New Albany girls who took a hard-fought win at home on Thursday to propel them back into first in their division which will also reward the Lady Bulldogs with a first round home match.
Coach Ashley Connolly has done an excellent job in her first year with New Albany as the former Mississippi State player has the Lady Bulldogs poised for a post season run which will hopefully carry them past the second round of playoffs.
Lewisburg eliminated New Albany the previous two seasons and has since moved to 5A, so one obstacle has been removed for the Lady Bulldogs if they can keep playing at the top of their game.
Thanks to all five of our teams on a great season and I want to wish our New Albany Lady Bulldogs much success as they start the playoffs at home on October 17. I believe they will face Highway 15 rival Pontotoc in the playoff opener if I am correct.