North Pulaski’s journey in the state volleyball tournament came to an end Tuesday as the Falcons lost to Alma (25-12, 25-9, 25-18).
In the seniors’ first appearance, they were hoping for a different outcome in the first round held at Alma. Nerves and emotions took control and had an effect on the outcome.
"I could tell in warm-ups, we were nervous," North Pulaski Coach Benjie Belton said. "In the first set, I looked at the assistant coach and said we are about to win this, then we made some mistakes."
In that first set, Belton said the Falcons were at one point down 0-4. They came back and tied it, and they went ahead 8-4. He noticed it was 10-11 or 11-11, and then the wheels feel off.
"At one time we had two passes close to the net, and we should have gotten the ball over," Belton said. "After the two overpasses, one girl jumped all over the one with the overpasses. That happened a couple of times."
Even though the outcome wasn’t what the Falcons wanted, Belton is proud of his team and could tell they had fun. He was also able to use the experience as a teaching lesson.
"I told the girls after the match that athletics is like life, you win and lose and have to be a winner in both situations," he said. "When things get tough, you can’t attack the other person. The same thing holds true in a marriage. You have to work together and be a team."
With seven seniors leaving the team, the Falcons will be in a semi-rebuilding process next year. Three to four underclassmen return with varsity experience. After the match, Belton asked the seniors if they had any advice for the underclassmen. Two stepped up with some insight.
"They said to take practice and the non-conference matches more seriously," he said. "They also said to not point fingers and give up on each other."
As the season closes, Belton can see that the players grew up individually and emotionally. He also thinks they all learned something which means the season was a success.
Senior outside hitter Shelby Floyd (5-foot-8) was named all-conference, all-state and was also nominated for the all-star team. Junior setter Emily Long (5-5) was also received all-conference honors.