By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Tupelo begins defense of its Class III state volleyball championship Saturday with all of its Farmers healthy.
The Farmer sisters – Rachel, Sarah and Hannah – have played together in only 18 of the Lady Wave’s 35 matches this season because of injury or illness.
Rachel, a 6-foot senior middle blocker, and Hannah, a 6-3 sophomore middle blocker, have missed matches. Sarah, a 6-foot junior outside hitter, has not.
“Having all them is an absolute bonus,” Tupelo coach Clint Jordan said. “At the same time, not having them may have been the best thing to happen to us.
“We were able to build some depth, which is something we didn’t have last year.”
Division 2 winner Tupelo hosts Southaven, the Division 1 runner-up, at noon Saturday in the opening round. The winner advances to Tuesday’s quarterfinals. The semifinals are Thursday and the state championship match is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9, in Clinton at Mississippi College.
The Lady Wave defeated Hancock 3-2 last season to win the first Class III state title and the program’s third overall.
Jordan has been pleased with the focus his team has maintained.
“We haven’t mentioned state since before the season,” he said. “We committed ourselves to this season. We want to be as good as we can be and not live off last year’s success.”
Micah Collum, one of four seniors on this year’s squad, said a confident Lady Wave team enters the postseason. Tupelo took a 30-3 record into Thursday’s matches at Oxford and Lafayette.
“We faced a lot of good competition this year; it’s prepared us,” she said. “We know we’re going to be challenged. We know we’re going to have to fight.”
In Saturday’s Class I opening round, Lafayette travels to Caledonia for a 3 p.m. match while Aberdeen plays at Lewisburg in a 5:30 p.m. match.
Also in Class III, Starkville plays DeSoto Central at 1 p.m.
There are no Northeast Mississippi teams in the Class II playoffs.
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593
STATE PLAYOFFS, FIRST ROUND
Southaven at Tupelo, noon
Starkville at DeSoto Central, 1 p.m.
Lafayette at Caledonia, 3 p.m.
Aberdeen at Lewisburg, 5:30 p.m.