DIG, SET, SPIKE! Lady Choctaw Volleyball Team Looks Build on Last Year’s Improvements! By Andrew Vaughn

The Mississippi College Volleyball team defeated the Loyola (La.) Wolfpack this week, 3 sets to none. This marks the first time in program history the Lady Choctaws defeated the Wolfpack. The team will travel to Arkansas for the Dr. Margaret Downing Invitational, where they will finish out their non-conference schedule with matches against Grambling State, Arkansas-Monticello, Texas A&M International, and tournament host, Southern Arkansas. The Lady Choctaws will play host to Auburn Montgomery to kick off Gulf South Conference play.

With a record of 10-21, one might not instantly describe the 2016 season as successful, but it was a huge improvement for the Lady Choctaws. 2016 was the first time in five seasons that they won 10 games. It was also Julie Redus’s first year as head coach. When any coach comes to a program, especially one that has not been winning a lot, they want to change the team’s culture. That is easier said than done, but Coach Redus thinks the Lady Choctaws are on the right track. “It’s really hard to change a culture, especially with the transition to Division 2 and playing in a tough conference like the Gulf South Conference. What’s going to change our culture this year is our eight-senior squad. I’ve got eight seniors this year who are really changing the culture themselves. I’m just allowing them and leading them in the right direction. I let them take control and leave their own legacy. Culture and legacy are synonyms for us right now.”

Senior Madison Frazier would like to see more conference wins this year, as the Lady Choctaws only won three Gulf South Conference matchups. “It was great to have 10 wins,  of course, but we would hope to get a lot more conference wins this year. We had a slow start but I feel like we can still do it, for sure.” Two of those conference wins last year came against the West Georgia Wolves, who happen to be one of Frazier’s favorite opponents. “My favorite team to play against is West Georgia; we’ve beaten them twice, two years in a row. Hopefully we can do that again.”

Junior Shelby Grace Mays and her teammates have established a team goal to help get more wins this year. “Our goals are to minimize on our own errors. We think we have a lot of potential this year; we have a lot of talent. I think we really beat ourselves most of the time by our own errors. I think if we minimize our own errors offensively and defensively we will double our wins from last year.” By eliminating errors, you avoid beating yourself — this can be applied to all sports. Mays also has a personal goal she believes will help the team. “My personal goal is help the team as much as I can by minimizing on my own errors. Serving errors are big for me right now.” You can find Mays in the gym getting in extra practice on her serves, especially for opponents from Alabama. Mays, an Alabama native, looks forward to playing against other players from her home state. “Coming from Alabama I would love to whoop up on UNA or West Alabama or Huntsville. There’s a lot of pressure when I play over there, but I feel like I play better under pressure, so that helps. There’s at least one player on each of those teams that I played club (volleyball) with, so it’s always good playing against old friends.”

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