Seven teams from the “Southern Six” participated in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Volleyball Invitational in Jackson last weekend to tip off the 2023 prep volleyball season.
Bay, East Central, Gulfport, Hancock, Ocean Springs, OLA and Pass Christian all took part in the two-day event involving some of the top teams from across the state. Pool play took place on Friday with Gulfport, Ocean Springs and OLA going 3 and 0 and advancing to Saturday’s Gold Bracket. Hancock and Pass Christian joined them in the Gold Bracket.
East Central and Bay both fell into the Silver Bracket as the Lady Hornets fell to OLA, Oxford and St. Andrew’s in pool play while Bay lost to Gulfport, and NW Rankin before picking up a victory over Olive Branch.
Bracket play began on Saturday and in the Silver Bracket, East Central was eliminated by Belmont while Bay fell to Northeast Lauderdale. Lafayette would defeat Clinton to win the Silver Bracket.
In Gold Bracket play, Hancock faced Brandon and fell to the defending State Champs. The Lady Bulldogs would eventually run through the bracket to win the bracket over Lewisburg. OLA defeated Alcorn Central before falling to Madison Central. Gulfport, Ocean Springs and Pass Christian found themselves in the same side of the bracket and proceeded to eliminate each other.
Ocean Springs defeated the Lady Pirates while Gulfport eliminated Lake Cormorant. This set up a battle between the two Division 4-7A heavyweights. The Lady Greyhounds took round one 25-14, 25-17 to advance to the semifinals where they lost to Lewisburg. Gulfport gets two more shots at the Lady Greyhounds in division action on August 24 at Ocean Springs and at home on September 12. A fourth meeting in the postseason is a definite possibility.
Gulfport continued their hot start Tuesday night at home sweeping two matches from Vancleave and George County. The Lady Admirals head to West Harrison on Thursday night. Top players for the 6-1 Lady Admirals include Lynde Barnes, Aubrey Johnson, and Wiliana Ruiz. George County begins the year 1-1 as they slipped by Vancleave and the Lady Rebels host D’Iberville Thursday night. Vancleave’s tough opening stretch continues Thursday night as they take on OLA on the road.
Ocean Springs stands at 5-1 as they travel to Hancock to face the Lady Hawks. Statistical leaders for the Lady Greyhounds include Mary Carlton Desher, Anna Hoffmeyer, and River Schmidt.
Hancock looks to bounce back from a tough five set loss to Biloxi on Tuesday night. The Lady Indians took the back-and-forth affair 18-25, 25-21, 19-25, 27-25, 15-12. The Lady Indians host Pass Christian Thursday night while Stone takes on Poplarville, and defending Class 3A state champion OLA and defending Class 1A South State champ Resurrection clash. Also, St. Patrick is coming off a three game sweep of Harrison Central earlier in the week on Monday.
The Lady Eagles of RCS are coming off a 3-0 sweep of neighborhood rival Pascagoula on Tuesday night. RCS won 25-16, 25-10 and 25-21. Madison Bovastro and Amelia Kate Frederic led the way for RCS.
The remaining Thursday night schedule includes Moss Point taking on Pascagoula, Picayune hosting Harrison Central, Bay at PRC and East Central traveling to Long Beach.