For the first time in school history, Stringer not only finished the season with a winning record of 9-8, they have won their first playoff match in three straight sets (25-3, 25-10, 25-13). First-year head coach Jody Rowell had this to say, “Feels good. I’m extremely proud of the girls from where we’ve started to where we’ve come. One of the goals I set at the beginning of the year is to qualify for the playoffs.” Rowell and his Lady Devils are way ahead of schedule in year one.
Rowell has been coaching high school athletics for a long time, but he is a rookie on the volleyball court, and so are his girls. When tasked with the job of building a volleyball program, he went to work. “I learned by talking to the other coaches, a few people in the community, watched some YouTube videos. I learned some new drills that I thought would help us in games,” he noted, “In the beginning, I tried to put in an offense that was too complex. That was a terrible idea. So we got it as simple as possible. The girls picked it up quickly and played without overthinking. We run a basic 4-2. After that first game in that offense, they knew they could play volleyball.”
The Red Devils offense is centered around setters Hannah Grace Buckley and Allie Goldman, and they are loaded with young talent around them. “Hannah Buckley and Allie Goldman do a good job setting. That’s a tough spot especially if you haven’t done it before. Hannah is very athletic at the net. We also have a lot of girls diving for balls going after anything close. I’m proud of all of them.”
A strength that has propelled Stringer to the playoffs is serving. There is a chance anyone on the floor can turn a serve into a scoring run. “Serving has come a long way. That was our weakest point at the beginning of the year. We have worked in practice and put more focus on it, and now it’s one of our strong points,” bragged Rowell.
The Red Devils will take their 10-8 record to face one of the better teams in the state, Sacred Heart. “Sacred is hard is good. They and Resurrection are two of the tougher teams in 1A. I look forward to a tough match coming up,” commented Rowell on their next playoff opponent.
That match will be in Hattiesburg at Sacred Heart and scheduled for 6 pm Saturday. That time could change.
Please keep up with Stringer announcements for any changes to game time.