Freshman middle blocker Nakeyta Clair has shown her potential for the Ole Miss Lady Rebels volleyball team throughout the season. Clair is now considered a dual threat for Ole Miss, recording kills on offense and blocking opponents’ attacks on defense.
Last week, Clair was awarded with SEC Freshman of the Week honors from the league office after her breakout performances against Missouri and South Carolina. She totaled 27 kills and had 15 total blocks in the two matches.
“I was kind of shocked,” Clair said. “It never came to mind that I could make it. Then when people told me I made Freshman of the Week, I was still shocked.”
In her last three matches, the Country Club Hills, Ill., native has killed 30 balls to go along with 16 blocks. Prior to those matches, she had 40 kills and 27 blocks for the entire season. In just three matches, she has almost equaled her previous kill total and half of her block output.
“Obviously from the numbers she put up this last weekend, she really blossomed on the court for us in game situations,” head coach Joe Getzin said.
Getzin said he was not surprised by her breakout weekend, saying that he has seen it in practice all year.
“She’s progressed with hard work and lots of reps, kind of absorbing and catching up to the speed of the SEC,” Getzin said.
Clair enrolled in school last January and said the early introduction to college volleyball helped her make the adjustment from high school.
“It helped me get the pace of college,” Clair said. “That’s the biggest problem I have — adjusting to the timing that’s not high school. It’s a lot more of a faster pace (in college).”
To become NCAA tournament eligible, the Lady Rebels must have an overall record of .500 or better, and Clair is doing whatever the team needs from her to accomplish that. Ole Miss carries an overall record of 10-11 into this weekend’s road matches against Kentucky and LSU.
“I just feel like my role is to keep hitting the ball and getting blocks,” she said. “Just keep playing volleyball, the skills I know how to contribute to the team. I think we have a good chance (to make the NCAA tournament). We just have to keep fighting.”
Getzin believes Clair can play an important role on this team for the rest of the season and in the future.
“Nakeyta, going forward, just has to continue to stay steady, believe in herself, and good things will happen for her,” Getzin said.
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