POPLARVILLE, Miss.— Pearl River showed growing pains Monday, falling to Lawson State 3-0 (25-15, 25-15, 25-16) at Shivers Gymnasium.
"They're a really good team. They're very fast and we couldn't compete with that," Pearl River coach Haley Chatham said. "It opened all of our eyes with things we need to work on; some speed issues, defensive issues and blocking issues."
The Cougars (5-1 overall) are fresh off of a 28-10 2018 campaign and played like the experienced program Monday, jumping on PRCC (1-1) early in the match.
LaShundria Chatman (Brandon) had the first two kills of the match for PRCC, bringing the Wildcats within one, 3-2, but the Cougars soon opened a gap by building a 20-8 advantage.
Leah Draine (Mobile, Ala.; Mattie T. Blount) and Maleah Austin (Kiln; Hancock) teamed up for a block to bring PRCC within nine, 21-12, but the Cougars took four of the final seven points to claim the first set 25-15.
The Wildcats and Cougars traded points early in the second set, with Lawson State clinging to a narrow 6-5 advantage. Each team proceeded to go on runs. LSCC ripped off four straight to go ahead 10-5. PRCC responded with its own four-point run, pulling back within one, 10-9. The Cougars mounted a nine-point run, however, to jump ahead 19-9 and PRCC was unable to respond, falling 25-15.
The third set was arguably the closest of the evening. The Cougars earned the first point but Madelyn Misita (Clinton) bounced a ball off two Cougars and out to tie the match 1-1. PRCC took the next two points but the visitors reeled off six straight to jump ahead 6-3. Chatman delivered a Howitzer of an attack to break the Cougars' run and Carly Danley (Vancleave) placed a serve just inside the back line to pull PRCC within one, 6-5.
From there Lawson State gradually built an advantage. LSCC held a 17-11 lead and although the two teams nearly traded points down the stretch the Wildcats never went on a run.
Despite the score, Chatham was proud of how her team continued to fight throughout the match.
"I think we kept a great attitude the entire time," she said. "They kept each other up and were playing for one another for sure, which I'm proud of because that's what you build a team on."
BACK IN ACTION
After playing at home to open the season, PRCC hits the road for its next six matches; starting Friday when the Wildcats play their first of two matches in the Mississippi University for Women's tournament. Pearl River plays Judson at 3 p.m. Friday and then host MUW at noon on Saturday. PRCC also plays Wallace at 6 p.m.
Pearl River won't return home until Sept. 17 when it hosts Bevill State at 5 p.m. PRCC then hosts Panola College on Sept. 20 at 6 p.m. and again on Sept. 21 at 1 p.m.
All home matches will be played at Shivers Gym. For those who are unfamiliar with the facility, it previously was the home for PRCC's basketball programs and then welcomed the teams back as the school rebuilt Marvin R. White Coliseum after Hurricane Katrina. In recent years it has been occupied by student services, but over the summer PRCC updated the facility so it can be the perfect home for the Volleyball Wildcats.
As you enter the main entrance of campus, located across from Ramey's grocery store at the Ted. J. Alexander Administration Building, Shivers is the first red brick building on the right.
HOW TO TUNE IN
All home events will be broadcast on PRCCAthletics.comand PRCCMedia.com. Anyone who has an Amazon Fire or Roku device can stream PRCC broadcasts by downloading the "Pearl River CC" Channel from the app store.