Terrell earns Player of the Year after stellar sophomore seasonBy CAMAL PETRO,
The Hattiesburg Lady Tigers volleyball program saw a major turnaround from 2016 to 2017, improving from 7-16 to 18-5 with a region title and hosting two playoff games.
Led by sophomore Kendyl Terrell, the offensive attack was the biggest strength for Hattiesburg. As a team, it recorded nearly seven kills per set, totaling 562 kills in 84 sets. Terrell led the group of young Lady Tigers – only one senior recorded a kill – with 188 kills in 83 sets played. Because of her efforts, Terrell has earned the PineBeltSPORTS Player of the Year honor.
Terrell, along with others, is the main reason why Hattiesburg saw the success it did this year. The Lady Tigers fell in the second round to the eventual Class II State Champions Vancleave in straight sets.
“It was fun and it was exciting,” Terrell said of the season. “It was kind of depressing because we lost in the second round, but I knew we were ready. That night, we just weren’t there to play and they were the better team.”
Just by attending one Lady Tigers’ match, it’s evident Terrell’s power is imposing on a lot of opponents. Sometimes she’s even taking frustration out on the ball, too.
“Honestly, after every game I have to get it iced because it is constantly hurting,” she said. “It’s just life of an athlete, really. Teams like to talk through the net, and I do not like it when teams talk through the net or anything like that. So, I just get them with my kill, honestly.”
Terrell gave a lot of credit to the Hattiesburg coaches for her team’s success. In Lauren Smith’s first year, she built a program that could dominate the next couple of seasons.
The Lady Tigers got back to the basics in the offseason. Techniques were a point of emphasis, and it proved to work out. Hattiesburg had three players tally more than 100 kills, and another two had at least 40. Juniors Arei Redd and Ty Vance were second and third on the team, respectively, with 123 and 114 kills.
Terrell said all of the attackers bring something different to the table, too.
“Just being up there with different hitters, you see we all hit differently,” Terrell said. “Some of us hit the same, like two of us are very aggressive and the others are more skillful and technical at the net.”
Hattiesburg returns its top five players on the attack, while only losing one senior on the roster. Along with Terrell, the Lady Tigers should be right where they left off in 2017.
“I hope so, because I feel like we’re going to come back stronger,” Terrell said. “We know what it takes to win a state championship. I’m glad we lost this year because now we know what it feels like to lose. I feel like we had a big head, but to be all the way up there and to lose, I feel like we know what it takes now.”
What makes Terrell’s volleyball season more impressive is she played on the football team, too, as the team’s kicker. Kicking extra points for the quick-scoring Hattiesburg offense, she’s 60-for-73 (80 percent) on point-after-touchdown attempts this season.
She also plays soccer in the winter and competes in track and field in the spring. She joked she’s consumed with playing different sports and is only home to sleep. She has a good reason, though.
“I do a lot, but I make sure I find the time because you never know what path you’re going to go on,” she said. “Even though I want to go for soccer, you never know, I might get a full-ride for volleyball. It’s really fun because I love to play sports. I want to constantly play sports because I want something to do.”