Mississippi State volleyball coach Julie Darty Dennis is pleased with the way the sport is growing in Mississippi.
Darty Dennis is entering her third season as MSU’s head volleyball coach, and she joined men’s basketball coach Ben Howland and women’s tennis coach Daryl Greenan on the second episode of the Virtual Road Dawgs Tour last week.
During the episode, she talked about what she expects from her team in 2020, how the sport of volleyball has grown in Mississippi and the support her team is given from the staff and student body.
The volleyball team hosts a team camp for high schools around the state, and she said during her first season in 2018, only 10 teams signed up for the camp. In 2019 during her second season, they maxed out the camp with 22 teams.
She credits that to the growth of the sport in high schools, which has seen a large increase of teams in the last few seasons. Before the 2019-2020 school year, 11 schools in the Daily Journal coverage area added volleyball as a sport with slow-pitch softball fading away.
Even more schools have added volleyball before this upcoming school year, and Darty Dennis said she loves to see it.
“It’s definitely exploding in high schools and exploding in AAU and club volleyball,” Darty Dennis said. “It’s a fun, fast paced sport that when you watch it, you can feel the energy in the stands from the court, so I think it’s something that is great for our young women to pick up and play.”
While the sport has grown, so has the win total for Darty Dennis and her squad. In 2018, the Bulldogs went 5-26 and won only one SEC match. Last season, her team improved to 13-17 and won two SEC matches.
Nine new faces join her team this year, and she is expecting a solid season. She has two captains returning that didn’t play last season, one due to injury and one due to transferring inside the conference, and she believes they will do a great job of leading her new players through adversity.
“I’m excited to watch these captains who have been off the court for so long actually be able to lead their team on the court,” Darty Dennis said. “I mean there’s a lot of fresh faces with this group and I’m excited to see what we can put together and piece together for this season.”
The start of volleyball was postponed last week until at least Aug. 31, the SEC announced due to COVID-19 precautions. The decision was to provide additional time to prepare for the safe return of competition.