While much of Mississippi’s best volleyball talent resides inside DeSoto County, the young ladies who are part of local high school programs haven’t had many opportunities to continue playing beyond high school, without traveling far distances to schools outside the state.

Add to that, you won’t find DeSoto County talent on the rosters of Ole Miss or Mississippi State volleyball. In fact, Mississippi State has only has freshman Callie Minshew of Brandon on this year’s roster, while Ole Miss has no Magnolia State products on its roster.

Hallie Phelan, a freshman from Madison Central, is the other homegrown volleyball product from Mississippi on one of the three major programs in the state, at Southern Miss. 

That leaves a big harvest of talent available for college volleyball and the state community colleges are taking advantage of that. Both Pearl River and Itawamba Community Colleges have started volleyball programs, and Friday, Northwest Mississippi Community College announced it would become the third two-year school in the state to include women’s volleyball among its athletic programs.

"It is exciting to add a new sport that is rapidly growing in our state," Northwest athletic director Brian Oakes said. "The addition of volleyball will give young women an opportunity to continue their education through athletics at Northwest."

Volleyball will become the 10th athletic program offered at the Senatobia school. The team, with a coach still to be determined, will play on campus at Howard Coliseum, starting next fall.

The National Junior College Athletic Association reports 320 schools offer volleyball. In Mississippi, Pearl River played its first season this year and Northwest would join them and Itawamba, which also starts a program next fall.

Northwest officials said a national head coaching search is now underway and that head coach would be hired by the start of the spring semester.

Who ever that coach will be should know there will be some good talent to go after just in DeSoto County.

Bob Bakken is Sports Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.