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Spring Has Sprung: Women's Volleyball

The 2016-17 academic year is in its twilight, and there is one thing on the minds of the Southern Miss Volleyball program: who’s next?

The spring campaign featured plenty of action between trips to New Orleans, Hammond, La., and Mobile, Ala. (twice). It was the first time the Golden Eagles took the floor without the star-studded senior class of Chanel Joyce, Stephany Purdue (school’s all-time career kills leader) and Makareta Rademakers, which finished last fall as the winningest in program history.

As with any good program, it’s not about rebuilding for the next year, but reloading.

“[Rising junior] Kylie Grandy has just always been so solid, and I don’t think she gets enough credit for her consistency and all-around game,” head coach Amanda Berkley said. “[Rising junior Sarah Bell] has done a nice job too. I think we have a lot of competition on the right side with Chanel leaving, but Cat Repsher and Alexis Coombs are doing a nice job and they’re your typical people to do well.”

Grandy and Bell started each of their first two years, winning a combined 47 matches. Staying at that current rate would put their class ahead of the curve in besting the Joyce, Purdue, Rademakers group. The other testament to Berkley’s success in Hattiesburg has been her ability to cultivate and get the most out of her student-athletes. She says it’s still a learning process in the spring season, but a few have certainly made their mark for the future.

“In terms of leadership, Sarah and Kylie have stepped up and Alexis Coombs has spoken up at times, especially in conditioning groups,” Berkley said. “The dynamic definitely changed after last year because all three had big personalities and different leadership qualities.”

That team persona is also seen in its academic prowess. Eleven members earned a spot on the C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll for posting a 3.0 GPA or better in the Fall 2016 semester, while returnees Sarah Bell and Ashley Chapman and departing senior Makareta Rademakers claimed conference academic medals for having at least a 3.75.

It will be surely be another exciting year for Southern Miss fans come August, no matter how the lineup plays out.

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