Lady Vikings rolling into volleyball playoffs

Published 9:00 pm Monday, October 16, 2017

Three weeks ago, Warren Central’s volleyball team was facing off against perennial power Madison Central and not faring too well. The Jaguars’ serves were creating havoc with WC’s defense, and ultimately led to a 3-0 loss.

Coach Matt Gullett, taking it in, realized that he liked what he saw and decided to emulate the approach.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“We put a lot of stress on it. We’d been working so much with the consistency on our serving that we weren’t aggressive with it. Madison Central was and it threw us off,” Gullett said. “Over the last two weeks we have practiced aggressive serves and have had to receive aggressive serves, so we’ve done a better job receiving it as well.”

The increased aggression has paid dividends. They served 32 aces in a 3-0 win over Vicksburg and 25 in a 3-0 win over Cleveland Central, and are riding a three-match winning streak heading into Thursday’s MHSAA Class III playoff opener at Desoto Central.

For the season, the Lady Vikes (13-10) are averaging 8.8 aces per match. That’s a strong number they’ll need to hit — or even exceed — when they face Desoto Central (37-2-1).

The Jaguars have only lost 13 sets in 40 matches this season, and have not lost a match to a team from Mississippi. They won the Class III championship in 2012, 2014 and 2015 and reached the semifinals last year.

Gullett believes his program is on the rise — this will be Warren Central’s second consecutive winning season — but didn’t mince words about what it would have to do to pull off a monumental upset.

“Practice and pray,” he said with a laugh, before turning a bit more serious and analytical. “We’re not going to game plan to what they do. We’re going to game plan to what we do. When we’re running our offense and playing good defense, we can hang.”

Eventually, Gullett hopes Warren Central can reach the same level as Desoto Central. That will take years of establishing feeder and club teams. For now, he’s happy with the steady progress the high school program has made since it was started in 2010.

The Lady Vikes are in the playoffs for the third consecutive season and have held their own against some perennial powers. A good showing — or even a win — against Desoto Central would be another positive step.

“They play some tough teams in North Mississippi. We play the toughest competition we can play around here,” Gullett said. “We do that in seventh and eighth grade now, too, so when we get up there we can be prepared. It’s no need being intimidated by them. It’s just going up to play some volleyball.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

email author More by Ernest