This week’s goal for the North Pulaski volleyball team is to finish 2-0.

After Tuesday night, the Falcons are halfway there. A 3-0 victory over Jacksonville was crucial for the Falcons’ hope of possibly securing one of the 5A-Central state tournament bids. Next opponent today at home is Little Rock Mills.

"We are in a must-win, and the girls know that," North Pulaski Coach Benjie Belton said. "We have to win this week and after Thursday be undefeated."

The Falcons don’t have to finish the season undefeated, but to stay in the race for the third or fourth spot in the conference and qualify for state, they needed to beat Jacksonville and need wins over Milles and Sylvan Hills. North Pulaski lost the first time to Mills, but Belton knows his girls are capable of a victory.

Belton was hoping the Falcons would finish 3-0 last week but came up short with a 2-1 record. They defeated West Helena and non-conference Episcopal, but lost 25-20, 25-15, 25-23 to Pulaski Academy last Thursday. North Pulaski lost the first time to the Bruins and didn’t play well. Belton was hoping his girls could pull off a victory.

"We competed and performed well," he said. "All the sets were respectable, not like the first time we played them. They had to play well to beat us, and our team didn’t fold."

The Pulaski Academy match was the first conference contest without Casey Mullen. The outside hitter tore her ACL last Tuesday in the match at West Helena. Her knee injury means she is out for the rest of the season. Payton Mullen moved to her spot from the right side, but now her spot is open.

"We been filling that spot by committee," Belton said. "Different people are playing there, and I haven’t found that one person."

Although the Falcons are missing a critical element in their lineup, they have adjusted well. Belton said they haven’t whined or complained even though confusion exists on who does what. With a team composed of mostly sophomores, sometimes youth can be a blessing.

"They don’t panic," he said. "Hopefully, that will help them when they get older. They don’t criticize or say anything. There is no drama."

Belton said Payton Mullen is doing a good job of filling Casey’s spot. Not only did the Falcons lose Casey on the front row, but she also played all the around, and they are also losing her serve.