Lanett wins rivalry at the net

Published 10:23 pm Thursday, August 31, 2023

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The Lanett and Valley rivalry is prevalent across all sports. On Thursday, Lanett’s volleyball team made a statement in the rivalry as it beat the Rams in straight sets. 

Lanett head coach Krisse Story has been a major part of this rivalry since she was in high school. Story graduated from Valley, coached for Lanett, and she had been on the football field with her husband, Clifford Story, for more than a decade. 

“We’re divided by a bridge, and we’re united by love with Valley,” Story said. “That’s my alma mater. It’s always a good thing to start off the season with wins against Valley, but we want to make sure that we play with that same intensity regardless of who we’re facing.” 

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The win for Lanett pushed their record to 7-0 on the season. 

That record is motivating Story’s team to set higher goals for the rest of the season. 

“I think we started off maybe 4-0 or 5-0 last year,” Story said. “Seven is the number of completion, I’m one of those people. I think that it sets a good standard for us. It gives us something to continue to work towards, continue to strive for. It keeps the girls hungry. We don’t want to lose, and if we do we want to lose [while] working.”

Lanett’s play at the net was crucial in their win. Laila Lancaster, Makiah White, Chloe Jones and Nakerriona Heard were consistently able to beat the Rams at the net. Tamia Spratling is a setter, but she also helped out at the net in Thursday’s win. 

“I was very excited to see the improvement that we had tonight at the net,” Story said. “Our girls are working. I was very excited to see the improvement from last week.” 

The loss brings Valley to 1-4 on the season.The Rams have also lost two games against Lanett. Head Coach Madyson Messer does not believe she has seen the same team in games that she has seen in practice. 

“There’s a lot we need to improve on,” Messer said. “I just feel like the way that we played today doesn’t really show what we can do. Those girls are way better than how we played today. The way they play at practice and the things they do at practice didn’t really show out here today.” 

Messer is unsure why her team is playing differently in a game as compared to practice. She just knows that the team has yet to play at their best. 

“I don’t know if it’s the nerves that are getting the best of them or what,” Messer said. “Hopefully that’s not it because we have too many girls out here that have been doing this for a while.”

Lanett won the sets 25-21, 25-21 and 25-8. Messer felt as though her team’s energy dropped as Lanett took control of the match. 

“We’ve got to really work on keeping the energy out on the court too,” Messer said. “I could tell when they started losing their energy. That’s when we really started going downhill.” 

Lanett has been working to improve their serving, and that showed on Thursday as Valley struggled to return several serves towards the end of the match. 

“We’ve just made sure that they’ve got a lot of reps, a lot of serves in practice,” Story said. “We had one day where basically all we did was serve.” 

“Our defense is really killing us right now,” Messer said. “It’s not so much the offensive side of the ball. “Our defense and receiving serves, we’re really going to be working on that at practice.” 

Still, the Panthers are going to continue focusing on their serving as Story does not believe it is where it needs to be. Lanett’s serves have massive power, but sometimes that leads to balls landing out of bounds. 

One major improvement for the Panthers is the ability to fight through adversity. Even when they were down, Story saw her girls fight through it to come out with the win. 

“I think that we are just learning to press through,” Story said. “Even when we have some setbacks, even when we have some disagreements and things going on that we’re trying to rectify, the girls are learning to press through that.” 

Messer will be looking for her seniors to step up to turn the tide on their season. 

“We’ve just got to look for leaders out there to keep everybody together and keep them going,” Messer said. “They’re the ones that everybody’s looking up to. I’m just hoping that they can bring everybody together and keep everything going.” 

Up next for Lanett is a match on the road against Reeltown on Sept. 5. Valley will return home on Sept. 5 to face Beauregard.