By Bob Bakken
Saturday’s MHSAA/Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Volleyball State Championships will be held at Germantown High School in central Mississippi, but two schools from the volleyball hotbed of DeSoto County will try to take the gold trophies back to their familiar resting place a few miles south of Memphis
When the list of Mississippi state champions are reviewed since 1995, there have been only five years — and none since 2005 — when teams from the DeSoto County School District have not won at least one state championship.
In the last three state finals, both Class III and Class II winners have come from the top of Mississippi’s map. DeSoto Central and Lewisburg will try to keep that streak going this weekend.
It’s a familiar stage for both teams. Lewisburg took the Class II championship last season in a 3-0 victory over East Central, while DeSoto Central won the Class III crown by the same score over Hancock, a team it will face again in the 2015 finals.
Lewisburg’s attempt at a fourth championship will come on the home floor of the tournament hosts, as Germantown will provide the opposition.
The cast of performers for the Lady Patriots this year is a mix of veteran returners and underclassmen who have played far above their years, but one big change has come on the sideline.
Allison Burchyett, responsible for coaching Southaven to three of the school’s five state titles, took on the Lewisburg opportunity this season when Gary Hentz left to take a position teaching at an international school in Panama.
Burchyett took on the challenge of leading a team with little experience remaining in the cupboard after the 2014 title run.
“Most of these girls didn’t play much on the state championship team last year with Ka Lea (Davis) and Kelsey (Glasper) being the exception,” Burchyett said early in the season. “The other girls were either JV or not even on the team.”
Youth has also been served with the DeSoto Central Lady Jags, who have only four seniors back from last year’s title team. One of those seniors, outside hitter Brooke Watson, noted the contributions the younger girls have made.
“This year we’re actually starting some freshmen and they’re doing very, very well and we’re really excited,” Watson said. “Chemistry will be the key. At state last year, our chemistry was so good and we all loved each other so much. That’s the exact same way it is this year.”
DeSoto Central Coach Margaret Falatko said after Tuesday’s North Half championship over Hernando that her team was determined to get back to the finals for the third time in four years.
“We came out hard, we built some good leads,” Falatko said. “Hernando pushed us, but we did what we needed to accomplish our goal, which is to make it to state again.”
MHSAA/Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi State Volleyball Championships
At Germantown High School
11:00 AM — Class I: St. Andrew’s (21-13) vs. *Our Lady Academy (23-12)
1:00 PM — Class II: *Lewisburg (24-13) vs. Germantown (21-14)
3:00 PM — Class III: *DeSoto Central (31-6-1) vs. Hancock (25-10)
* — Defending State Champion
All games streamed live on NFHS Network