By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Tupelo volleyball set the bar high last season, posting a 31-1 record and winning a state championship.
What can the Lady Wave do for an encore?
“We have high expectations,” Tupelo second-year coach Laurie Bishop said. “We’re going to build one match at a time. We want to give ourselves the best chance to get back (to the championship).”
The Lady Wave opens its season today with two matches in an MHSAA classic tournament at Ridgeland High School. Tupelo’s opponents will be Vancleave and Clinton. More matches are scheduled for Saturday at Madison St. Joseph.
Tupelo is led by 6-foot-3 senior middle blocker Hannah Farmer, who enters her first season without one of her sisters – Mississippi College players Sarah (THS 2011) and Rachel (THS 2010) – as a teammate.
“It’s going to be different,” Farmer said prior to a practice session this week. “I’ve had them around since the ninth grade.”
Farmer has worked on her jumping ability in the offseason, which should add to her hitting and blocking skills. She knows defenses will be designed to minimize her presence on the court.
“I want to be more effective on defense this year,” she said.
Bishop is confident Farmer will excel in her role as a leader and force this season.
“I think she can handle any defense,” the coach said. “She’s really a smart player.”
Kelsey Burnis, Hannah Grisham, Chandler Coggins and Erin Hadley join Farmer as seniors in the starting rotation. Two juniors, Kerrigan Buck and Crystal Coleman, will also start.
Burnis, an outside hitter, transferred to Tupelo last season and had an immediate impact in the lineup. She enters the season coming off a shoulder injury.
“We need her serving and hitting at 100 percent,” Bishop said. “She’s a smart, scrappy player.”
Bishop’s goal early in the season is to see her players start coming together as a unit.
“We want to be comfortable on the court and talk,” she said. “I want to see things as simple as a good pass, set and kill. We want to do the little things right.”
NORTHEAST MISSISSIPPI VOLLEYBALL TEAMS
CLASS III: Tupelo
CLASS II: Oxford, Starkville
CLASS I: Aberdeen, Alcorn Central, Amory, Belmont, Corinth, Lafayette, New Albany, Pontotoc, Ripley, and Tishomingo County