August 19, 2014 4:33:28 PM
STARKVILLE -- The smile washes over Khris Carr's face as soon as you mention the Tupelo match.
It's not that the Starkville High School senior is thinking about the team-high 21 kills she had to lead her team to a three-set victory. Instead, Carr was delighted by the fact Starkville played so well in its first action of the season and what its 2-3 finish against some of the state's top teams means for the rest of the season.
"We played hard and we fought, and I think we definitely played as a team," Carr said. "We were very aggressive, and I think we all wanted to win."
Carr paced Starkville in all five matches it played Friday and Saturday at the Set It Off tournament in and around Jackson. Starkville lost to Our Lady Academy 2-0 (25-18, 25-22), beat Tupelo 2-1 (19-25, 25-19, 15-9), defeated Hattiesburg 2-0 (25-12, 25-15), lost to Hancock 25-6, 25-19), and lost to Ocean Springs 2-1 (25-15, 21-25, 4-15).
For her accomplishments, Carr is The Dispatch's Prep Player of the Week.
Carr had 10 kills against OLA on Friday in the team's first match. OLA went on to win the overall champion. Carr added nine kills against Ocean Springs in Starkville's last of four matches Saturday.
In addition to leading the team in kills, Carr had 13 digs against OLA, seven digs against Tupelo, six digs against Hattiesburg and Hancock, and two digs and one block against Ocean Springs.
"I think I played every well," Carr said. "I think I called for the ball and that I did a lot of encouraging of the team. I definitely think as an individual I pushed myself to help my team out."
Carr, who was selected to the Mississippi Association of Coaches Senior All-Star game in the summer, said her goal for her senior season was to be a better leader and to be more vocal. She said she has taken a big step and was more vocal this past weekend compared to the first tournament of last season.
Still, Carr, who said she is a perfectionist, said she wasn't as vocal as she needed to be. She said she is trying to take the words of Starkville High coach Lauren Love to heart and be patient. For someone who is a veteran of club volleyball, Carr said she hopes she can be positive and help her teammates realize their potential, especially after how the team played in its first five matches.
"I think playing against really good teams I can see we are better than we act or play during regular matches," said Carr, who is a team captain at Starkville High. "I have to continue to stay positive and understand (most of her teammates don't have a lot of club volleyball experience) and continue to be a leader and push those girls. Coaches do a lot of that on the side, but it really is what is going on in the game. I think I can do better as an individual and as a leader in terms of keeping my girls and excited."
Love, a former player at Tennessee, has coached Carr at Starkville High since she was in the seventh grade. She said hearing Carr be as vocal as she was Friday and Saturday was one of the most impressive things she saw from her senior in the first matches of the season.
"Khris played very well," Love said. "She played in all six rotations, and on offense, on defense, and serving wise she was very solid. She not only was getting some very big hits, but she was very smart with her placement of the ball. She racked up a number of kills just placing the ball and playing a real smart offensive game. She was just solid with her serve receive and passing and defense."
Love said it will be important for Carr to speak up this season, even though the Lady Yellow Jackets are an experienced team. She said Carr's wealth of experience in club volleyball gives her a comfort level on the court that can help her high school teammates. In fact, she said Carr's knowledge of the game helps her make sure everyone is in the right spots to help the team stay in system and in rhythm, which is why she was so encouraged to hear Carr as much as she did.
"She has found her voice," Love said. "Hearing her is a big step, and it really shows she is ready for that leadership role.
"She wants to push the team to help everybody get better. I think it is a life lesson that if you help others you can help yourself."
Carr believes the Lady Yellow Jackets' energy pumps her up, which adds to the responsibility on her shoulders to be a positive, vocal leader. If she plays that role, she believes she can play even better by feeding off her teammates' energy. That's an exciting thought -- one that brings a smile to Carr's face -- when she considers the role she can play in her final season with the Starkville High volleyball team.
"From that tournament last weekend to a year or two ago playing in that tournament, we have improve so much," Carr said. "It's amazing. I have always known this varsity team -- because we have been together for a long time and because there aren't really huge age groups -- can accomplish a lot. I did not expect anything less because I knew as a team we were better than we actually thought we were. Sometimes we don't really see we have potential and other people do. ... I knew we could be great, and I know we can do more than we did at that tournament. I know we can be amazing."
Carr also intends to use the five matches as a building block to help her get better and be a better leader.
"As I told my coach when she asked me on the bus (going to Jackson) what was my goal this year, I told her my goal was to push the girls to get better," Carr said. "I know that when my class leaves, it is going to be a little challenging, so I want to be able to motivate or at least keep footsteps in for the remaining girls that will be on the team next year.
"I really just need to keep in mind I need to have fun, keep it fun for them, help them realize it is just a game, and I can improve by my attitude and the way I approach things."
Senior setter Vicky Vo also contributed with 12 assists against OLA; 14 assists, 11 digs, and two kills against Tupelo; nine assists against Hattiesburg; six assists against Hancock; and 13 assists against Ocean Springs.
April Reese had 12 digs, three blocks, and two kills against OLA, while Courtney Wilson had 12 digs.
Against Tupelo, Emily Woomer had three aces, three blocks, and nine digs, Reese had two aces, five digs, one block, two kills, and two assists; Kayla Minor had three blocks; and Wilson had seven digs.
Against Hattiesburg, Reese had two aces, five kills, and four digs, and Wilson had two aces, four kills, and five digs.
Against Hancock, Reese had three kills. Against Ocean Springs, Reese had three kills, three aces, and three digs, while Minor had three kills and two blocks.
Starkville will play host to Madison Central at 6:30 tonight. It will travel to Columbus on Thursday to take on Heritage Academy at 4 p.m. at Mississippi University for Women.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.