By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
There’s no danger of Tupelo going into today’s Class III state championship volleyball match against Hancock feeling overconfident.
The coast team defeated the Lady Wave 2-1 earlier this year in a preseason tournament.
“When they beat us, they acted like they’d won state,” Tupelo senior middle blocker Rachel Farmer said. “It makes us want to push that much harder.”
Farmer and her teammates know what they’re facing in the south Mississippi club. Tupelo defeated Hancock 3-2 last season to win the state championship.
“They’re a really good passing team,” she said. “We’ve got to be able to pick out the places they’re not and hit it there. They’re also a really good serving team.”
Tupelo’s junior outside hitter, Camille Walker, added: “They’re scrappy. They’re good hitters and good passers. I know they fight really hard.”
Both teams qualified for today’s 1 p.m title match at Mississippi College’s A.E. Wood Coliseum in Clinton with semifinals victories Thursday. Tupelo (34-5) defeated DeSoto Central 3-0 while Hancock (29-6) beat Oak Grove 3-0.
Tupelo coach Clint Jordan knows Hancock will be his team’s toughest opponent. The Wave swept through the postseason, winning nine consecutive games against Southaven, Clinton and DeSoto Central.
“Hancock’s excellent; they’ve got no weak players,” he said. “They serve well and always get good possessions. They play great defense. They force you to score. They’re not going to give you any points.”
Tupelo’s offense in Thursday’s win against DeSoto Central came from Walker, Farmer and her sister, junior outside hitter Sarah Farmer. Another sister, 6-foot-3 sophomore middle blocker Hannah Farmer, had two key kills late in third game.
Tupelo’s focus this season was never repeating as state champions, Jordan said. Instead, the goal was to steadily improve.
“We haven’t discussed winning a state championship this year,” he said. “Our goal is to be as good as we can be every night. If we do that, then we can win a state championship.”
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593 or firstname.lastname@example.org.