The Long Beach Lady Bearcats earn their second consecutive South State Championship in their last game of the current high school gymnasium on Oct. 20, 2020. (Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)

by Hunter Dawkins

In a historic South State 5A Volleyball Championship game as the last one at the current Long Beach High School Gymnasium, the Lady Bearcats beat the South Jones Lady Braves three consecutive sets (25-22, 25-13, 25-23) to return to the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) State Championship with hopes of bringing the state title.

“There are a lot of good memories in this gym,” said Long Beach Head Volleyball Coach Rebecca Tillman, who’s coached the Lady Bearcats for close to a decade and finished among the top seven times without a title.  “This team definitely has more potential than any team I have ever coached and when they play their game, no one in the state can matchup.”

The Long Beach Lady Bearcats earn their second consecutive South State Championship in their last game of the current high school gymnasium on Oct. 20, 2020. (Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)

With an intense atmosphere coming right out of the gates, three timeouts were called in the first set.  As the Lady Bearcats kept an advantage, Long Beach player Abbi Grissom dialed in a few kills and serves to claim the first set by a thin margin over the Lady Braves.

As the net was on their side, the Lady Bearcats won seven straight serves behind Long Beach player Chloe Drace and set the bar for the final set with a 25-13 vault of the second.

Long Beach Chloe Drace (#15) serves for seven consecutive points in the second set to help the Lady Bearcats sweep the South Jones Lady Braves on Oct. 20, 2020. (Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)

“Chloe was definitely a huge factor in the game,” expressed Tillman.  ‘Every time she got up in the game, the team pushed points and her keeping the ball in play along with covering well was huge for us.”

The MHSAA 5A State Title will be in Clinton, Mississippi on Saturday at 6pm against the Lake Cormorant Lady Gators.  Lake Cormorant upset the New Hope Lady Trojans in a five set matchup where the Lady Gators won the last 15-9 by MHSAA rules for fifth sets in volleyball.

Long Beach returns from losing the 2019 state title against the Center Hill Mustangs.