By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – There’s something about smashing a volleyball over the net that gives BreNa Medcalf an adrenalin rush.
The Tupelo High senior doesn’t experience the hitter’s high as often these days. Her current job, as the setter for the Lady Wave, is to provide athletic thrills for others with a perfectly-timed set.
“I had to put away my desire to hit to become a setter,” said Medcalf, who was an outside hitter two years ago, before former THS coach, Clint Jordan, moved her to setter as a junior. “He thought the move was best for the team.”
It’s hard to dispute the move. Medcalf’s new role has coincided with an impressive 62-7 record posted by the Lady Wave. Last year’s team made it to the state finals before falling. This season’s squad, 28-1, plays at 1 p.m. Saturday at home against Northwest Rankin in the opening round of the MHSAA Class III state playoffs.
“Without a good setter, a team can’t do much … get good hits,” Medcalf said, prior to Tuesday’s practice. “Good hits get you points. I feel like I’ve improved since last year.”
Taken for granted
First-year Tupelo coach Laurie Bishop believes a good setter is often taken for granted.
“A setter gets lost,” she said. “There are no offensive points without the setter creating an opportunity. BreNa’s in a decision-making role. She has to know where she’s going to set and who she’s going to set.”
Medcalf has recorded 273 assists this season, along with 42 of her favorites – the kills – and 53 service aces. She registered a season-high 22 assists in a Sept. 24 match against Horn Lake.
“BreNa hustles,” Bishop said. “She makes every effort to get to that second ball. She gets to balls you wouldn’t expect a setter to get to.”
Lady Wave senior middle blocker Sarah Farmer, a frequent beneficiary of Medcalf’s well-placed passes, says the team’s offense depends on those sets.
“It takes a lot of accuracy and effort on her part to make it perfect,” Farmer said.
Medcalf was on the court last season at Mississippi College’s A.E. Wood Coliseum when the Lady Wave lost 3-2 to Hancock in the championship match. She was on that same court two years ago when Tupelo won state.
“We’ve got it in our minds that we’re going to win (state),” she said.
The winner of Saturday’s match plays at Southaven or Madison Central next Tuesday in the state semifinals. The championship is scheduled for Oct. 15 at MC.