By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
High school volleyball season doesn’t officially begin until next month, but North Mississippi teams are getting their aces, digs and serves in during Tupelo Summer League play.
Tupelo High is hosting the multi-team, multi-day event, which wraps up in two weeks. Teams from Amory, Belmont, DeSoto Central, Lafayette, Pontotoc, Ripley, Starkville and Tishomingo County joined the Lady Wave for this week’s session.
The league gives Tupelo third-year head coach Laurie Bishop an opportunity to preview her team prior to the start of practice Aug. 5.
“The summer league lets you see what you need to carry into practice and the season,” Bishop said. “We see what we need to work on.
“Every year you’re working with a new group. We’re working on putting together a new team, a new look.”
Bishop must replace five starters from last year’s team, one that finished 22-7 overall and lost in the playoffs to eventual MHSAA 6A state champion DeSoto Central.
Tupelo won the 6A state championship in 2011.
“Every season, it’s like you’re starting fresh,” Bishop said. “Every season there are always new dynamics. All the players have to get comfortable playing together.”
Kerrigan Buck, a senior middle blocker, is the lone starter returning for Tupelo. Bishop says Buck has improved her entire game.
“She can attack from the back row, so we can leave her in to play defense,” Bishop noted. “She’s a double threat. She’s also serving really well this summer.”
Buck believes the summer play is essential to the Lady Wave’s success this fall.
“We’re starting to come together as a team,” she said. “We’re progressing. We’ve had little mistakes, but we’re getting there.”
The job of replacing 6-footer Hannah Farmer, a star middle blocker, goes to Buck and junior middle blocker Georgeanna Bowen. Both players had solid performances in the team’s 2-0 league loss Thursday to DeSoto Central.
Outside hitters Morgan Hereford and Crystal Coleman are the team’s other seniors. Kaitlyn Wilson, a sophomore, is expected to start at libero.
Bishop will also look to a talented group of freshmen players as the season progresses.