Vicksburg’s program aims for improvement in second season

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The London Olympics gave second-year Vicksburg volleyball coach Charity Gomez plenty of teaching tools, but some fond memories as well.

Gomez was a college volleyball player at Southern Methodist, and her most famous opponent was Misty May-Treanor, who with partner Kerri Walsh Jennings, won their third straight Olympic gold medal in women’s beach volleyball.

Gomez said May-Treanor is as dominant now as she was in college. She led Long Beach State to the NCAA championship in 1998.

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“She’s awesome,” Gomez said. “I was at SMU and she played for Long Beach State in 1997m and I remember kind of just standing around, watching her play.”

While May-Treanor and Jennings waltzed to gold in the sand, the United States women’s volleyball team finished with silver, falling to Brazil in the final. It was still enough to show Gomez’s young team the finer points of the indoor game.

“This was such a good time for the Olympics to be on because, for three weeks, the girls were all excited to watch great volleyball,” Gomez said. “I really promoted itm and then I get comments from them and could relay some things about when I played against Misty May or when I practiced with the U.S. team’s Danielle Scott Arruda in Baton Rouge. But I could also could show them how a game should flow.”

The Missy Gators have caught on. They’ve made steady progress in the team’s first full season. Because Vicksburg was a startup program with only one player, Breianna Foster, who had any kind of volleyball experience, the squad played just a pair of matches against rival Warren Central.

Tuesday, the Missy Gators played their seventh match this season against established power Madison Central. The Lady Jaguars won in three sets to drop Vicksburg to 1-6, but Gomez found some bright spots.

“We started off slow, but we finished very strong,” Gomez said. “We actually led 20-17 in the third set against a team that won the division last year.”

Gomez said she returns eight players from last year. Five are seniors, led by Foster, who is the team’s top scorer. The other senior starters are Syndey Gifford, Megan Evans, Jessica Edmond and Jessica Sanders. The lone underclassman starter is soccer star Tabitha Hayden.

“I moved Breianna to the setter position this fall because that increases the odds of her touching the ball. In volleyball, the setter is like the quarterback of the team. She directs traffic and Breianna has done a good job with that. Tabitha has become our second highest scorer and has done very well having come over from the soccer team.”

Vicksburg has played in a pair of tournaments and picked up the program’s first match win, beating Williams & Sullivan.

“We’ve won a match, we took Forest Hill to five sets, and we nearly beat Pearl,” Gomez said. “We tend to start off slow, but we do better as the match progresses.”