After 17 years as a college coach, Amy Hendrichovsky got a peek at how special volleyball was in DeSoto County in her one season at St. Benedict in 2019.
Over the course of the 40 matches that the Eagles played, two of them were against Northwest Mississippi’s finest – DeSoto Central and Lake Cormorant.
A year later, Hendrichovsky filled the coaching vacancy in Lewisburg. And now, she’s in the middle of the tense rivalries, the lengthy playoff runs and the state-championship tradition.
On Oct. 3, Hendrichovsky brought her team to Hernando to compete in the annual DeSoto County Tournament. The all-day event began with seven teams and ended with two heated rivals, that will soon look to make deep postseason runs in hopes of adding to their Mississippi High School Activities Association title-winning ways.
DeSoto Central defeated Lewisburg, 25-22, 19-25, 15-11. It was the fifth meeting of the season between the two MHSAA Class 6A squads – both which possess rosters with seven seniors apiece.
“I believe their senior class and my seniors, they all know each other,” Hendrichovsky said.
“They’re so close,” said DeSoto Central coach Margaret Falatko. “They play club volleyball together. It’s kind of like the old Horn Lake-Southaven rivalry – it’s just that team you want to beat. If you don’t beat anybody else that year, you want to beat Lewisburg.”
This season, the Jaguars beat the Patriots four times, including twice to win the MHSAA Region 1-6A crown. They split a pair of matches Sept. 5 in the River City Classic. And, depending on how things pan out in the state playoffs that begin this week, they could meet again Oct. 20 in the North Half championship.
Lewisburg enters the postseason with an 18-10 record.
“I commend them,” said Hendrichovsky. “They kind of had to accept a new coach … we’ve had to spend the season without having a summer to kind of get to know each other and gain that relationship as coach and player on the fly. They’ve been great. They’re amazing girls and I really do enjoy coaching them.”
Falatko, meanwhile, is in her ninth season at DeSoto Central (26-5). She’s a former Horn Lake standout, having won a state title during her sophomore year with the Eagles.
“I want all my athletes to have the same opportunity to celebrate once that score hits 25 in a state-championship match. I want them to have that opportunity to go out there and accomplish that dream, because that’s something nobody can ever take away from them. You win a state championship – you’re always a state champion.”
DeSoto Central hosts Clinton on Tuesday. Lewisburg visits Madison Central. The 6A bracket also includes Hernando, which will travel to Germantown. In Class 5A, Center Hill welcomes Vicksburg to town, while Lake Cormorant heads down to Ridgeland.
“Overall, there’s talent in the DeSoto County area,” said Hendrichovsky, who spent seven seasons as the head coach at the University of South Alabama from 2012-18. “I think that there’s a very competitive spirit amongst the coaches and the teams – almost surprisingly competitive.”
At the county tournament, Lake Cormorant’s Alaijiah Rose was named the 2020 Most Valuable Player. DeSoto Central’s Gracie Tacker and Megan Harris were on the first team, along with Lewisburg’s Ellie Jones, Center Hill’s Chloe Steen and the Hernando duo of Rylee Eyster and Emme Muizers.
The second team included Micah Swift (Lewisburg), Annah Marshall (Lake Cormorant), Kaillyn Johnson (Olive Branch), Olivia Hines (Center Hill) and Jaclyn Carter (Hernando). Honorable-mention recipients were Amonie Silas (DeSoto Central), Erin Latham (Lewisburg), Tyreahnna Tillman (Center Hill) and Maddy McClendon (Southaven).
The rosters for the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Football Game were released last week and Team Mississippi will feature five players from DeSoto County. Playing in the Dec. 12 contest at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala. are Horn Lake’s Thurman Rayborn and Charles Thomas, Lake Cormorant’s Tony McCray Jr. and Gabe Cavazos and Southaven’s Isaiah Brevard. The Mississippi Association of Coaches’ Bernard Blackwell All-Star Football Classic is one week later and will include Center Hill’s Darryen Hobbs and Hernando’s Reid Flanagan. … Bartlett High School’s Sharon Drewry was named this past week’s AutoZone Liberty Bowl’s “Tag A Teacher” program winner. In association with the College Football Playoff Foundation, Drewry was presented with a $500 DonorsChoose gift card.
On the Links
Jim Seaton aced the 153-yard No. 3 using a 5-hybrid at The Links at Pine Hill.
Alan Keller aced the 136-yard No. 2 using a gap wedge at The Links at Galloway.
Mark Pickens had a double-eagle on the 221-yard No. 5 using a driver and a 4-hybrid at The Links at Fox Meadows.
And, Ridgeway Country Club recently held its Stroke Play Championship. The winners are as follows:
*Regular Division – (Champion) Justin Gosa; (Low Net) Bailey Childress.
*Senior Division – (Champion) Jeff Hauss; (Second Low Gross) Michael Kelfer; (Low Net Champion) Steve Chandler; (Second Low Net) Ray Kinney; (Third Low Net) Jeff Rosenberg; (Fourth Low Net) Chuck Kantor; (Fifth Low Net) Kevan Ostrander.
*Super Senior Division – (Champion) Len Lewin; (Low Net Champion) Abe Plough; (Second Place Low Net) Sammy Salky.
Sunday Sports Brunch is a weekly look at movers, shakers and newsmakers on the Memphis sports scene, from youth level to the pros. If you have an item of interest, please contact Chris Van Tuyl at [email protected]