By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
CLINTON – Camille Walker’s been there, done that, and she has some advice for her Tupelo volleyball teammates headed into today’s state championship match.
“Stay focused and never underestimate the other team,” said the Lady Wave’s senior outside hitter. “Nobody’s going to give you a state championship.”
Walker was on last year’s team that lost 3-2 in the finals to Hancock. She was also a starter on the 2009 club that defeated Hancock 3-2 for the state championship.
Today’s opponent at 3 p.m. at Mississippi College’s A.E. Wood Coliseum will not be Hancock. Instead, the Lady Wave (30-1) will play the team that beat Hancock, Ocean Springs (18-7), in the MHSAA Class III best-of-five game title match.
The match will be televised at www.misshsaa.tv/events/ 22941.
Tupelo reached the finals with a 3-0 win over Southaven in the North finals. The Lady Chargers handed the Wave its lone loss, 3-0, earlier in the season.
“We know we’re not unbeatable,” Walker said. “That’s why we have to stay focused.”
Walker and her senior teammates – Sarah Farmer, Latesha Jolly and BreNa Madcalf – have been a part of a three-year run that has produced a 64-7 record and three trips to the state finals.
“I knew and understood the caliber of players and the success of the program when I came here,” said Tupelo first-year coach Laurie Bishop, a former Lady Wave player and state champion. “I’m not surprised by the success we’ve had. This was the ultimate goal.”
However, Bishop doesn’t believe Ocean Springs will be in awe of the Lady Wave.
“They are young and determined,” she said. “They’ve beaten a lot of people they weren’t expected to. They’ve played their way to this point.”
The Greyhounds have a tall frontline to match Tupelo’s 6-foot-3 Hannah Farmer and 6-foot Sarah Farmer. They are 6-2 Emily Smith, 6-0 Balke Mohler and 5-9 Lynsie Byrd, who leads the team with 216 kills and 78 service aces.
Sarah Farmer leads the Wave with 295 kills while Hannah Farmer has 218 kills and a team-high 67 blocked shots. Kelsey Burnis leads the team in aces with 83 while Medcalf is the assist leader with 296.
“It’s hard to get a read on Ocean Springs,” Bishop said. “We have statistics, but we don’t know how to measure those statistics.
“Our mindset has to be to take care of business on our side.”