The difference between this match going all five sets and instead ending in a competitive three sets was experience.
The Tupelo Lady Wave made the plays they needed to late in all three sets they won in their 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-23) sweep of the Oxford Lady Chargers Tuesday night in the OHS Gym.
In each set, the score was tied at 23-23, and in each set Tupelo (12-2 overall) scored the two points they needed to take each set, and according to Oxford head coach Ashley Martin, it comes down to experience and communication. In addition, Oxford (8-6) was playing with just 10 players on their active roster with their other nine players, including a few starters, having to stay home to quarantine due to COVID-19.
“More communication from their team,” Martin said. “They’re an older team. We’re young. We have four freshmen starting right now where some have never played varsity before. They have experience and we’re young right now. We’re going to get there. Next year we will get there. We will have an experienced team. That’s the difference. Some of those inexperienced mistakes that we’re making like being in the net or not communication that Tupelo is not doing because they’re more experienced.”
In both the first and second sets, Oxford maintained a small lead throughout, but in both sets after Oxford led 23-20, Tupelo scored the last five points to take the first and second sets from the Lady Chargers.
In the third set, it was Tupelo who had the lead throughout the set, growing the lead to as much as six points at 19-13, but Oxford crawled their way back to tie the set at 23-23, but again the Lady Wave were able to make the points when they mattered most and took the third set and the match from the Lady Chargers.
“I think we have a lot of promise for the next few years,” Martin said about the future of the team. “Being down four starting varsity players and hanging with a team like Tupelo shows me a lot of confidence for the next three years. We had three hitters go stellar-off tonight.”
Oxford’s Ainsley Tacke led all players with a match-high 12 kills and six digs. Michael Ann East had her best five-set match of the season with a season-high 10 kills and added four digs. Sara Kate Bundren led Oxford defensively with 12 digs. Bree Lyons added seven kills and 11 digs for the Lady Chargers and setter Catherine Bianco added four kills and nine digs.
Tupelo was led offensively by Alissa Hawes with a team-high eight kills and seven digs and was complimented nicely by Maggie Griggs with seven kills and 10 digs. Three players for the Lady Wave had double-digit digs including Ivey Young with 14 digs, Mallory Peters with 13, and Taylor Rogers with 11.
Oxford returns to action Thursday night when they travel to Desoto Central. It is a varsity-only match starting at 6 p.m. JV match is cancelled as Oxford will still have players in quarantine during that match.