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Oxford volleyball hitting the road to start season

The first month of the 2018 season will be grueling for the Oxford volleyball team.

They are on the road for their first four matches, including a tournament in Jackson, to kick off their season. It would have been five consecutive road matches, but Monday’s match at Lafayette was postponed.

The list of opponents Oxford will encounter include playoff teams and a defending state champion.

It was not intentional to schedule a tough road test to begin the year, it had more to do with lack of willing opponents according to Oxford coach Kacie Hengler.

“That was not ideal,” Hengler said. “Last year it was the opposite. We had most of our home games the first half of the season and then away games the second half. I don’t know if it’s because our program has gotten better or what, but (other teams) didn’t want to play us twice (this year).”

The stretch of road trips begin on Thursday when Oxford travels to 2017 Class III semifinalist Tupelo for a non-region match. The Sept. 20 match at Oxford is the only one that will count towards the Region 2-Class III standings between the Chargers and Golden Wave.

From there, Oxford travels to Jackson for the annual Set It Off Challenge on Friday and Saturday. Pool play begins Friday and the Chargers first match is against reigning Class III champion Brandon at 6 p.m. at Belhaven University’s gym. That game will be followed by a match against Starkville at 9 p.m.

Bracket play begins on Saturday and Oxford could potentially face four other teams from the Class III playoffs last season. DeSoto Central, Oak Grove, Northwest Rankin and Ocean Springs are all playing in the tournament.

“Next year it is my goal to mix it up. I hate that we’re all away and then all home, although it’s nice the second half of the season we stay at home and get people ready to come and watch,” Hengler said.

The Chargers will then play at Lewisburg (Aug. 14), Middleton, Tenn. (Aug. 16) and Lake Cormorant (Aug. 21) before finally returning to their gym. The home opener against South Panola on Aug. 28 will begin Oxford’s Region 2-Class III slate.