There are some things that just seem right as rain. The change of the seasons, the leaves falling in autumn, and OLA volleyball bringing home another gold ball at the end of October.
Tradition is defined as a custom that is repeated over and over until it becomes synonymous with an event.
This past Saturday, the Crescents made the trip to the Newell-Grissom Building on the campus of Mississippi State University and came away with a 3-0 sweep of the Lady Saints of St. Andrews for their eighth consecutive Class I state championship and 14th overall title in the sport.
OLA head coach Mike Meyers, who has coached every title team, commented, "I am very excited for this team because this is their first title experience. This is a great group of girls with wonderful chemistry. I am very proud for the girls, the OLA school community, and the volleyball program for the 14th overall state title."
The Crescents arrived in Starkville on Wednesday evening and disposed of Belmont in short order on Thursday 3-0 which set the stage for the finals against St. Andrew's who beat Alcorn Central to advance to the finals.
The Crescents (37-5) swept the Lady Saints 25-21, 25-21, and 25-14.
OLA battled with the Lady Saints in the first set along with unforced errors that allowed St. Andrews to remain in contention until OLA was able to secure the win.
In the second set with the score tied, OLA got a break when the Lady Saints put a ball into the net by Madison Jones to go up 12-11.
After consecutive double-digit calls, Rebecca Walk went up high and sent a ball crashing down with a windmill that used every bit of her 6'2" frame to give OLA a 15-12 advantage that they would not surrender.
In the third set, the match moved more to a typical OLA groove which called for OLA to get the ball to the nation's leading hitter in the middle, Rebecca Walk.
She opened the third game with a kill, followed that up with consecutive blocks to push the score to 7-1 before the Crescents put the match in cruise control en route to the 25-14 decision and the sweep.
Walk was on a mission in her fifth state title appearance. In the match, Walk tallied 27 kills, four blocks, 15 digs and four points.
Walk, a South Alabama commit who will sign in November with the Lady Jaguars, stated, "This season was stressful at times but it was always a lot of fun. There is an expectation of OLA volleyball and we did not want to be the ones who fell short of that expectation. Our key to winning was each time one of us fell short, the rest of the team was there to pick that person up. We strived to have a positive outlook throughout the season."
Walk finished her season season as the nation's leader in kills with 883 (70.9%) and hitting percentage with 66%.
In 2019, Walk recorded 883 kills, 150 blocks, 379 digs, 121 points and 63 aces. For her career, she tallied 2,351 kills and 338 blocks and a career hitting percentage of 60%.
Walk ended, "We are all sad to see the season end but it has been a tremendous amount of fun. Our coaches and school community have taught us lessons on the court and off of it. These are the lessons that we will take into life when we leave. We are better because of everyone who has been involved."
In the state title game, Walk was aided by Ashley Bulot who recorded 17 points, three aces, two kills, 23 assists and six digs while Camille Cottone added four points, nine kills, a block and 13 digs.
Kate Montjoy tallied seven points, two kills and five digs while Kate Funk had five points, 11 assists and five digs. Chloe Cornell chipped in two kills, a block and seven digs and Alma Hearin added three points and seven digs. Faith Anderson had two blocks and four digs and Grace Koons had three digs.
The Crescents lost just once during regular season play and that was to Vancleave on October 3rd. The Crescents beat the three-time defending Class 4A state champion Lady Bulldogs on August 29th on the road. The other four losses came in tournament play including Class 6A Clinton, Class 6A Hancock, and twice to St. Paul's Episcopal of Mobile.
Meyers added, "I want to thank Coach Rick Rechtien and Coach Steve Reboul for all their hard work and coaching this year. My daughter, Emily, who is my boss at OLA and her hard work making sure everything ran smoothly and we had what we needed to be successful. And, our parents, family, friends and supporters who have been with us throughout the season supporting us and helping keep us on track. People ask all the time if it ever gets old. I am as excited for this championship as I was for the first."
OLA volleyball has become the standard bearer for the sport in Mississippi. The Crescents have won 20 consecutive division titles and have played in 17 state finals (2001-03, 2006-19). During that time, the program has claimed 14 state titles (2002-03, 2006-09, 2012-19) including the last eight, consecutively. The school closest to that number is Southaven with five state titles (1996, 2000, 2006, 2008, 2013).