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Clair, Crow Talk Collegiate National Team

Nakeyta Clair and Melanie Crow  Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics
Nakeyta Clair and Melanie Crow
Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics

While most of the Ole Miss volleyball team was packing and preparing to head to Oxford for the start of the second summer school session the last week of June, rising senior Nakeyta Clair and upcoming junior Melanie Crow were in New Orleans training and competing with the prestigious USA Volleyball Collegiate National Team.

Crow and Clair joined the remaining athletes in New Orleans beginning on June 21 for training. All 35 athletes were split into three teams – Blue, Red and White for a round-robin tournament held concurrently with the USA Volleyball Girl’s Junior National Championships.

Clair was on the Blue Team, which went undefeated in its three matches in the tournament. Crow led the White Team in the semifinals against the Red Team, scoring 11 points.

“It was a great experience to be able to play with and against players who are used to competing at a high level,” Clair said. “I enjoyed every minute of it and I am happy I got the chance to be a part of the team.”

Clair and Crow helped lead the Rebels to their best record (22-10) in seven years in 2014, among many other accomplishments. Clair set the single season record for kills (366) and ranked among the top hitters in the SEC and the nation, while Crow served up the single season record for aces (42) and ranked second for kills in a season with 352.

The Rebels have now had three current players train and compete with the Collegiate National Team, as setter Aubrey Edie was a member of the program in 2014. Crow talked about what their experiences can do for the younger players on the team.

“You walk in there the first day, and you realize right away that you have to get your stuff together, because like Nakeyta said, it’s so competitive,” Crow said. “These girls compete at a very high level 100 percent of the time. It will definitely help us with open gyms now, because we basically just played a preseason for 10 days.”

According to USA Volleyball Senior Director Tom Pingel who oversees the High Performance program, the quality of athletes rising to the top is only getting better. Both Clair and Crow aim to bring that type of atmosphere to the Gillom Sports Center this month, when players are practicing and playing on their own.

“The USA coaches have high expectations of the players they bring in, and you are required to reach that level,” Crow said. “We want to create that environment with our teammates during open gyms, when the coaches can’t be here.  If we instill that competitiveness and expectation within the team, when preseason gets here we’ll be that much better.”

Players report for preseason on Aug. 10th and the first practice will be Aug. 11th. The season kicks off Aug. 28 with the Rebels hosting the Magnolia Invitational.

For more information on Ole Miss Volleyball, follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissVB, on Facebook at OleMissVolleyball and on Instagram at OleMissVB.

Courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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