Our Lady Academy is favored to win its fifth straight volleyball championship this weekend.
The Lady Crescents face Madison St. Joe in the Class I semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday at Belhaven College.
The other semifinals involving Coast teams are St. Andrews-Resurrection (4 p.m., Belhaven), Lewisburg-Vancleave (3 p.m., Millsaps College) and Hancock-Tupelo (7 p.m., Millsaps College).
OLA set the standard of excellence for Coast volleyball and continues to raise the bar. The Lady Crescents are going for their 11th state title, a Mississippi record. Emma Funk, Hannah Gest and Alia Tayara lead the experienced OLA squad.
“Our girls have played very well all season and have won many big matches,” Lady Crescents coach Mike Meyers said. “Now it is time to continue to build on our season-long success and play our very best this weekend. I am extremely proud of this group of young ladies.”
Resurrection could await OLA in the Class I finals should both teams advance. The Lady Eagles lost five seniors and made their title run, led by Icy Walley.
“Thus young bunch really improved and developed confidence through the season,” Lady Eagles coach Keith Tucker said. “The seniors have done a good job of leading them through the growing time.”
Hancock, last year’s Class III runner-ups, has a chance to win its second state title in volleyball.
“We look forward to the opportunity of making it back to the state championships,” Lady Hawks coach Rick Rechtien said. “I feel that our team has a good shot at advancing. More than any other past year, there are some really good teams that will make it very difficult to win a state championship. But that's what makes sports so exciting.”
A tough schedule helped Vancleave make its title run in Class II as the Lady Bulldogs face defending Class II champion Lewisburg.
“We expect Friday to be the toughest match of our season, but the kids have put in a tremendous amount of work this season to prepare a game like this,” Vancleave coach Haley Chatham said. “We have a roster full of talented kids that have worked hard. They are young, but have the confidence and will to move mountains.”
The state finals will be held Saturday at Millsaps.