Lady Bulldogs get three wins over Lady Pioneers
DECATUR — It was a wild night of ceremonies and sports as the Decatur Lady Bulldog varsity, along with the junior high A and B teams, kicked off their first match in the new gym at Decatur High School Aug. 22 against the Gentry Lady Pioneers in a nonconference classic.
The Decatur Lady Bulldogs used the off-season to hone their skills and even attended a team camp in Mulberry in July where they faced off with the Lady Pioneers. In that contest, the Gentry took the match three sets to one.
When school started on Aug. 15, the junior high team suddenly grew from the 20 they had throughout the summer to 30, the biggest team the young Decatur program has seen since its start in 2016. Unfortunately, there are only 25 spots available for the young team. So Decatur Coach Cali Lankford devised a system in which she holds weekly tryouts.
If a player is underperforming, that player can be replaced with one of the reserves. During each daily practice, Lankford looks at each reserve player’s performance and, if they are up to the task, they have a chance to play in the next match. This keeps each player on top of her game throughout the season.
Up first for the night were the young players of the junior high B team. These players from the seventh grade, coupled with those from the less experienced eighth graders, took the court for the very first match since the Peterson gym restoration.
The girls showed that they were ready to take on the world as they rolled over the junior high B team from Gentry in two sets.
Before the start of the junior high A match, the Lady Bulldog team sponsors and teachers were introduced and escorted down to center court by members of both the junior high teams and the senior varsity. Lankford put together the ceremony as a way of thanking these sponsors for their contribution to the Decatur volleyball program. These donations helped to purchase much-needed uniforms and equipment for the program.
Like the junior high B team, the A team played aggressively and rolled over their Lady Pioneer counterparts in two sets. Then it was time for a rematch of the Mulberry contest for the two varsity teams.
The Lady Bulldogs started out strong, pulling out in front by as much as seven points before the Lady Pioneers powered back and closed the gap to one point and tied with Decatur a few times. Decatur pulled out victories in the first two sets of the match, but the third set started to turn the tide for the Lady Pioneers.
It was as though Decatur suddenly ran out of steam, allowing the Lady Pioneers to run away with the third set, to trail the Bulldogs, two sets to one.
But the Lady Bulldogs re-energized in the fourth set to jump ahead of the Lady Pioneers early and never look back. The Decatur Lady Bulldogs worked for every point as they took the fourth set and the match, three sets to one, over the Gentry Lady Pioneers for their first victory of the 2022 season.