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MHS to open volleyball season today on road against Oak Grove

By By Ryan Satcher / staff writer
Aug. 13, 2002
The Meridian High School girls volleyball team is hoping to move to higher goals this season.
Last year the Lady Wildcats made the second round of the playoffs after winning their division and finished in the top eight in the state, but they hope to go even deeper into the playoffs this season.
"Our team goal is to win the division again and defend that title,"
said coach Susan Frazier. "We want to get back into the playoffs and we would like to get into the top four."
The season will begin tonight against Oak Grove. It will be the first time the Lady Wildcats have faced Oak Grove. The game will be played in Hattiesburg because the gym at Meridian High is not ready. The gym will hopefully be ready for home games in early September.
The team started practices July 29 with a mini-camp from 8 a.m. until noon every day. To keep the team motivated, Frazier also mixed in a couple of days of sand volleyball. Mostly, the team has been practicing in the Northwest Junior High School gym.
"It is really good that we had the facility to come to because if we hadn't we would have been in a bind," said Frazier of the gym at Northwest. "We really appreciate Northwest allowing us to use its facilities. We've been able to do everything there that we would have been able to do in our gym. We may possibly have to play some games over there, so it really helps."
The Lady Wildcats have six players coming back from last year's team. Three starters are returning from the team that went 16-5 and 10-0 in division play last year. Also, two additional players are coming back that had a good bit of playing time last season.
Last season the Lady Wildcats played with two setters but will move to a 5-1 offense this year. Megan Mendiola will be the setter in the offense.
Jet'aime Ross and Courtney Wade will be joining the Lady Wildcats this season. This will be their first year but they will probably see action on the varsity team.
Delisha McCelland and Jennifer Toole are two of the big hitters for the squad. Kirsten Gambrell is one of the team's best blockers. Wade is a good hitter and blocker. Megan and Marissa Mendiola were the top two servers for the team last season.
The Lady Wildcats will have better bench depth than last year. About eight or nine players will see a lot of action.
Meridian will play in the division with Pearl, Northwest Rankin, Murrah and Bailey. The top two teams will advance to the playoffs. The schedule also features a couple of important tournaments.
The Lady Wildcats will host a tournament on Sept. 28. Five teams have committed to play in the tournament and Frazier is looking for a sixth team.
MHS will also play in the big Tupelo tournament again this year. Over 20 teams participated in the tournament last year and Frazier feels it will help the team get ready for the postseason.
"We get a lot of competition there," said Frazier of the tournament in Tupelo. "Tupelo was the state champion last year and we will get to see some of the better competition like the kind we would see in the playoffs."
The Lady Wildcats are scheduled to play their first home game Sept. 3 against Pearl.