Clinton High head volleyball coach Megan Brown will always remember the day Oct. 5, 2019. And not because it was three days before her 25th birthday.
Saturday, Oct. 5, in the Clinton High gym was the day the Lady Arrows started believing in themselves.
Clinton went 5-0 without losing a set and rolled through their own Invitational Tournament, beating Starkville, Germantown, Florence, St. Andrew’s and taking down rival Madison Central in the championship game.
“There was no doubt that day was the turning point of our season,” Brown said. “We are a young team and had our ups and downs, but after that day we put it together.”
Clinton didn’t lose a match the rest of the season and completed it with a five set match victory over Lewisburg for the Class 6A state championship Saturday at Mississippi State in Starkville. The Lady Arrows finished the season on a 14-game winning streak and a 33-7 record. Three of those losses were to Mid-South Association of Independent Schools state champion Jackson Academy, ranked No. 1 by Mississippi by MaxPreps. Clinton finished ranked No. 2. It was the first state volleyball championship for Clinton. In fact, the first time the Lady Arrows had made it to the semifinal round.
It has been a remarkable season for Brown, who is one of the youngest coaches to ever win a state championship in any sport in Mississippi history. Here is how Brown got to this point. Brown played basketball and volleyball at Madison Central, graduated in 2013 and went into nursing school at Hinds Community College in the fall of 2013. She was coaching in recreation volleyball in a league in Madison and club volleyball at Mississippi Volleyball from 2013-15. She was an assistant at Jackson Prep under Leah Hunter in 2015. She moved to Delta State and pursued a degree to elementary education and was there for a year and half when she was contacted by Valerie Thames at Madison Central to be the assistant coach. Brown was there for the 2017 season and also coached club volleyball at Infinity Volleyball Academy that year. After the 2017 season, Brown applied for the head coaching position at Clinton after Melissa Denson left for Jackson Academy. Brown got the job and coached last season. She student taught last spring at Northside Elementary, took 18 hours this summer, graduated August 5 and started school August 8. She also coached club volleyball while she was going to school this summer. Brown is teaching physical science and zoology at Clinton High this school year because she passed her praxis test to teach K-12.
Clinton’s volleyball team apparently had Brown’s work ethic of pursuing the state championship like Brown had pursuing her education degree.
“We were very young, but they bought into what I was telling them and they finally started believing in themselves,” said Brown, who was assisted by Taylor Mraz. “We beat JA in the Hartfield Tournament and our girls won that tournament and gained confidence. And then we won our tournament.”
Clinton is led by 6-foot-2 freshman outside hitter LakinLaurendine, who is considered one of the top players in Mississippi. Lakin’s mom Shawna is the volleyball coach at Mississippi College, her sister Lexie plays on MC’s team and her dad Tommy is the offensive coordinator on the MC’s football team. Clinton’s other outside hitter is 6-1 freshmanAniya Madkin, whose dad Wayne is the winningest starting quarterback in Mississippi State history (25 wins) and led the Bulldogs to the 1998 SEC Championship Game.
Other key players include sophomore setter Mallory Morris, sophomore libero Andi Price, 6-foot sophomore middle hitter Ellie Scott, 6-foot senior middle hitter Morgan Ray, senior right side hitter Avia Hathorn and senior defensive specialist Abigail Farr.