October 3, 2012 10:45:54 AM
Matthew Stevens - email@example.com
STARKVILLE -- Paris Perret informed the Mississippi State University volleyball team's coaches Monday of her intention to quit the program.
The junior setter, who was on pace to finish second all-time in school history in career assists, met with MSU coach Jenny Hazelwood and MSU Senior Associate Athletic Director for Women's Sports Ann Carr on Monday to discuss her reasons for leaving the team.
"I feel like the person that came to me and said I'm quitting is not somebody I've seen in two and a half years," Hazelwood said. "When she comes in and says I used to love volleyball and she doesn't anymore because of me, that's not something any coach wants to hear."
In a text message to The Dispatch, Perret declined to discuss the matter.
Perret, who was the first setter Hazelwood signed as coach at MSU, became the second MSU freshman all-time to reach the 1,000-assist mark in a season when she had 1,024.
"For her to go from everything is great and I want to lead this team to I'm just so miserable that I want to quit just doesn't make any sense," Hazelwood said. "She would say the words I've had coaches in club yell at me and that doesn't bother me. That's what she would say, but she didn't want to be held personally accountable to be the best she can. I had to think to myself, 'Am I doing her a disservice as a coach by allowing her to continue being below average, not even average at times.' "
Perret was the starting setter for MSU in 27 of 29 matches last year as a sophomore, and became the sixth MSU player to reach 2,000 assists for her career. The 5-foot-10 junior from Frisco, Texas, was one of three upperclassmen on the roster in 2012 and was asked to play a bigger leadership role in Hazelwood's rebuilding project at her alma mater.
"I've had to learn a lot my first two years here, and I'm ready to lead this team and I understand now what that takes," Perret said Aug. 8. "(Hazelwood) has always wanted a lot out of me and it's just time now. My job is to get others to greatness."
MSU has lost 10 of its past 12 matches this season, including a 3-0 loss to the No. 12 University of Florida on Sunday in Starkville. MSU had an eight-game Southeastern Conference losing streak last year, and has lost the first five conference matches this season.
"Are we losing more than we should right now? Yes," Hazelwood said. "Do we have better volleyball players than we did four years ago? Yes, and that's the answer you get from any SEC volleyball coach that has played us this year."
The loss of Perret, who will remain on scholarship until the end of the fall semester, will mean freshman Taylor Hackemack will get her second career start -- and first at setter -- at 6:30 p.m. Friday when MSU (4-10, 0-5) travels to Auburn University.
Hackemack's father, Ken, played football at the University of Texas under former MSU coach Darrell Royal and for multiple seasons in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills.
Hackemack's backup likely will be sophomore walk-on Rachel Williams, but the Madison, Ala., native is rehabilitating from a severe ankle injury that required surgery in the offseason.
"Taylor has asked her dad how he handled his first year in college," Hazelwood said. "She has been raised to be a tough kid and a worker. For some of the experience things Paris would bring, Taylor is going to bring that heart to the court and her teammates will want to play with her. She cares, and that's going to go a long way."
MSU ranked 216th in hitting percentage (.178) out of 328 Division I schools, which is 39 percentage points lower than their opponents percentage. The team's performance in that category this season can be attributed to inexperience.
"It's a combination of we're getting SEC-caliber athletes we need to build a great program but they're freshman and sophomores in a league that's better than it has ever been," Hazelwood said.
Perret overcame a number of obstacles in her two and a half years with the program. Last February, Perret was involved in an automobile accident that required her to be hospitalized and resulted in her suffering a broken jaw in two places.
Hazelwood met with the team Monday night. Tuesday was the first practice without Perret since she arrived in 2010.
The future at setter for MSU is State College (Penn.) High School senior Suzanne Horner, who committed to the Bulldogs last May. Horner had 725 assists last fall along with 128 blocks, 178 digs, and 54 aces and led her team to the state quarterfinals.
"It is an odd selection," Horner told the Centre Daily Times. "I never in a million years thought that I would be going down there."
Horner committed to MSU after attending Super Bulldog Weekend in 2011 and is one of three players on her high school team who committed to a Bowl Championship Series school.
"It was an amazing visit down there," Horner said. "I loved the atmosphere, I loved the coaches. Just the whole athletics -- I got to meet a lot of the other coaches and the athletic director. I met a lot of different people that made it really special and a really great place and a great visit."