OXFORD – Clint Jordan wasn’t exaggerating when he said his Tupelo Lady Wave volleyball team was young.
Tupelo opened its season Tuesday night on the road with four juniors, five sophomores and seven freshmen on its roster. Only three of the players saw extensive action last season.
“We’re very young,” the third-year coach said prior to his team’s opener against Oxford. “I’m not sure what to expect.
“We do have talent. The question is how quickly can we come up to game speed.”
Tupelo had little trouble adjusting against Oxford, defeating the Lady Chargers 25-20, 25-13 and 25-19 for a 3-0 sweep.
“I thought our defense was good,” Jordan said. “We were solid behind the block. Our serve receive is hurting us right now, but we’re better today than we were coming in.”
To prepare his young team for the season, Jordan conducted a five-week summer league in Tupelo that included Aberdeen, Caledonia, Center Hill, Columbus, Olive Branch, Oxford and Pontotoc.
It was a first for his program.
“I know who can do what before the season,” Jordan said. “Without a summer league, we wouldn’t know.”
Junior defender Margaret Mary Bridges, one of the team’s three returning players, believes the summer play was beneficial for the entire 16-player squad.
“It really helped us to learn to work as a team,” she said. “We got to see what we needed to work on. Coach Jordan expects us to do better than we did in summer league.”
Kristina Kosogorova, a junior outside hitter and a returnee, said the league was a challenge at the beginning.
“It helped us become a stronger team,” she said. “We have a lot of younger players who don’t have a lot of experience, but you can tell they’re getting better.”
The other Lady Wave player who saw action last season was 6-foot middle blocker Rachel Farmer, a junior, who is joined by two younger sisters, 6-2 junior middle blocker Hannah, and 6-foot sophomore outside hitter Sarah on the team.
The trio had standout matches against Oxford. Hannah led the way with five kills and seven scoring blocks. Rachel had five scoring blocks and Sarah recorded three kills.
Camille Walker’s six kills was tops for the Lady Wave.
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal