Photo: Northeast Mississippi Community College outside hitter Cayleigh Shipman prepares to serve during an intrasquad scrimmage. (Photo credit: Michael H. Miller/Northeast Public Information)
Cayleigh Shipman and the Northeast Mississippi Community College volleyball team fed off its energetic crowd to put a win in the results column for the first time ever.
The Lady Tigers fended off late challenges in sets two and three by Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) University’s junior varsity program to capture a 3-0 victory on Monday, Aug. 28.
Bonner Arnold Coliseum has a well-established reputation of being one of the toughest basketball venues for opponents to compete in at the two-year college level.
The same held true for its official volleyball debut thanks to a crowd of nearly 500 fans, which included Northeast’s pep band, spirit squads plus coaches and athletes from several other sports on campus.
“I love how they wanted to come support us,” said Shipman. “I think we’re finally coming together as a team. The chemistry is getting there. We kept the energy up. We know we’re capable of winning.”
Shipman helped the Lady Tigers (1-2) build a large lead at the beginning of the third set. She recorded four service aces as part of a stretch of 10 unanswered points for Northeast.
The Lady Lions (0-1) closed the gap with a 14-5 run and eventually forced a set point. However, a service error by Freed-Hardeman tied the score at 24 apiece and set the stage for a thrilling end to the matchup.
Kami Wilf had a hand in the final two plays starting with an assist on Avery Thomas’ kill that made it match point for the Lady Tigers. She then wrapped up Northeast’s sweep with an ace for the decisive 26th point.
“Hopefully that’s going to be a confidence builder for them,” Northeast head coach Brenda Mayes said. “We’ve been making some strides in the last two matches. This was the icing on the cake. It was well worth waiting for.”
The Lady Tigers accounted for 15 of the last 17 points of the first set to cruise to a 25-10 decision. Madeline Ledbetter and Thomas had multiple kills while Madison Maxwell registered a big solo block during that sequence.
The Lady Lions bounced back in the second to hold a comfortable margin at 20-16. But six consecutive attack errors by Freed-Hardeman allowed Northeast to come-from-behind and claim a 25-23 triumph.