Pontotoc Lady Warriors find redemption, sweep Pass Christian to capture MHSAA Class 4A State Championship

RIDGELAND — Pontotoc coach Annie McGregor had based the Lady Warriors’ entire approach to the season around what it felt like to lose in the state championship a year ago.

So when they clinched the 4A North Championship and earned a berth in Saturday’s State Championship against Pass Christian at Ridgeland High, the message was simple: don’t let it happen again.

The Lady Warriors erased all doubt against Pass Christian, sweeping three sets and delivering the program’s first state title in a 3-0 win that sent the capacity crowd into hysterics.

“We had a major chip on our shoulder after last year,” McGregor said. “We were determined this year that we were going to out-hustle, out-determine and out-communicate whoever we played, and that’s what we did today. Even when we were down one or two points, our girls didn’t get rattled.”

Over the three games, they didn’t have much opportunity to get rattled.

Pontotoc (18-6) won the first set 25-22, and it ended up being the closest one. Pass Christian (13-13) fought to a 17-16 lead, but the Lady Warriors picked up eight of the next 10 points to take the 24-19 lead. After Pass Christian scored three quick points to make it 24-22, Pontotoc junior Mollie Rackley hammered home a kill to seal the set.

The second set was much more lop-sided. Pontotoc raced ahead to a 10-5 lead and led 22-9 at one point. Pontotoc ended up taking the set 25-17.

In the third and final set, the Lady Warriors again build a quick 6-1 lead, but Pass Christian fought back to tie it at 13-13 halfway through. Just like the other two sets, the Lady Warriors put together a big run — this one a 9-4 spurt — to get some separation. They led it 24-17 before Pass Christian put together a couple of good points in a row, but the Lady Warriors finally drove home the final nail for a 25-20 win to secure the sweep.

Pontotoc senior Audrey Hamill took home Most Valuable Player honors, leading the team in assists and finishing with five kills and three serving aces. Junior Sadie Stegall also had five kills and three aces, while sophomore Ava Robbins contributed five kills.

“Audrey and Holly Stewart and Scout Waldrop and Samya (Brooks) have all been playing with each other since sixth grade, and it shows,” McGregor said. “This championship today doesn’t happen without them, so I couldn’t be happier for them.”

Pass Christian played well, but just couldn’t ever break through. They put together a couple of key runs, including in the first set after losing middle blocker Kylah Bell to an ankle injury for several points.

“We kind of lost and found ourselves in the moment a couple of times today,” Pass Christian coach Kendra Bensch said. “I don’t think the stage was too big for us, but we put some of our players in some tough situations today and we couldn’t overcome it, but we’ve accomplished a lot this year and we have a lot to be proud of.”

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