KOSSUTH – Once the Kossuth volleyball train picked up steam, there was nothing Amory could do to stop it.
The Lady Aggies survived a back-and-forth opening set and then cruised to a 3-0 win (25-22, 25-18, 25-10) in the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs on Thursday evening. They’ll face county and division foe Alcorn Central in the North finals on Tuesday.
“I like to say that we’re slow to start, and then once we get going it’s kind of like a freight train,” Kossuth coach Dawnell Haupt said. “We’ve been starting faster lately, so we’re much more consistent getting into the faster reps. And once you speed the game up, it’s tough to keep up.”
Kossuth (25-4), ranked No. 4 by the Daily Journal, was leading 16-10 in the first set when Amory (16-8) reeled off seven-straight points. Haupt called timeout, and the Lady Aggies quickly settled back in, closing out the set with a 7-2 run.
After recording just three kills in the first set, Kossuth had 13 in the second as it began finding the cracks in Amory’s defense.
“Our girls were able to see their defense. They’re pretty smart hitters, and so we start placing the shots,” Haupt said.
Aven Mathis led Kossuth’s net attack with 12 kills. Bailey Wilbanks had five kills and five blocks, while Ashlynn Isbell had five kills and two blocks.
“We saw holes, so we started hitting those,” Mathis said. “We saw they were digging tips, so we tried to tip it farther.”
Amory was within 16-14 in the second set, but kills by Mathis and Isbell helped Kossuth pull away. The Lady Panthers were never able to recapture the periods of momentum they’d found in the first set.
“We see that we can play with them the first set, and then I think we got too lax in the second set because we did so well in the first one,” Amory coach Shay Ashford said. “We were like, OK, we can play with them, so maybe I can breathe, and we didn’t need to breathe. We needed to keep holding our breath.”
Ella Grace Phillips led the Lady Panthers with seven kills.
Emma Renfrow had 15 assists for Kossuth.