Hancock and Our Lady Academy were the Coast’s two best volleyball teams this year. Each team captured state championships in their respective classes.
For the second straight year, OLA and Hancock swept the Sun Herald’s individual awards. Emma Funk earned player of the year honors. Hancock’s Rick Rechtien repeated as coach of the year.
Funk has become the Coast’s top volleyball player. She had 748 kills, 89 blocks and 34 aces as the Lady Crescents cruised to another Class I state crown.
The junior embraces the high expectations placed on herself and an OLA program that has won a Mississippi-record 11 state championships.
“We definitely know because of our success, everyone wants to beat us,” Funk said. “I try not to think about seeing myself as the best player. I think more about playing the best for my teammates and school.”
Funk enjoyed the Lady Crescents’ latest state title, which came after beating Coast rival Resurrection in the finals last month at Millsaps College.
“This year was a lot easier because everyone worked together and trusted each other,” Funk said.
OLA coach Mike Meyers is impressed with Funk’s dedication on and off the court.
“Emma is clearly a very dominant offensive player, but she also plays defense and receives serve for us extremely well in all six rotations,” Meyers said. “She is a pleasure to coach, because she not only excels in matches, but practices full speed every day, always working very hard to improve. What is really neat is that, as great of a player as she is on the court, off the court she is just as good of a young lady.”
Against All Odds
Hancock overcame adversity to win its second state title. Rechtien’s father, Richard Rechtien, died before the Class III state playoffs.
“My dad wanted to see it, but he passed away a week before the semifinals,” Rechtien said. “My sons are also assistant coaches on the team. They lost their grandfather. The girls rallied around us. We had a lot of support from the school and their parents. My father’s death gave us all a different focus on things.”
The Lady Hawks also came from behind to beat top-ranked Oak Grove in five grueling sets, winning their first crown under Rechtien.
Rechtien is proud of the Lady Hawks, led by All-South Mississippi selections Madison Ladner, Destiny Hariel and Rylee Swilley to shine in the clutch.
“Winning a state title in Class III is tough,” Rechtien said. “Volleyball in the state of Mississippi as a whole has improved. There’s a lot of good teams.”