Pearl River volleyball primed for another big year in 2023

Published 10:44 am Monday, August 21, 2023

The Pearl River volleyball team was one of the youngest teams in the NJCAA during the 2022 season and still picked up a second consecutive 20-win season.

With a more experienced group in 2023, the Wildcats are primed for another big-time season on the court.

“With so many freshmen last year, I expected a slow start, and that’s exactly what we had. The difference in high school and college volleyball is a vast one,” Pearl River head coach Haley Chatham said. “After four years of bringing freshmen in, I’ve learned that it’s much faster and more physical than most expect. During preseason camp, we talk about speed, train speed, and practice fast. We try to teach them exactly what parts of the game will be different when the season begins.

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“I’ve learned that experience under their belts trumps all that we do in preseason and that it takes a few weeks competing in high-level matches for our freshmen to adjust. Last season was the greatest growth since the program’s establishment. Those 2022 freshmen took the punches and kept rolling. They didn’t give up, they got so much better, and now they have great experience to draw upon for their sophomore season.”


The Wildcats will have nine returners on the team in 2023 and will look upon each of them to provide leadership for the newcomers.

“I’m already so proud of our sophomores for understanding how important veteran leadership is to the program,” Chatham said. “They’ve stepped into various roles and are making sure to take care of their teammates and each other. This sophomore class has some outstanding leaders and we will certainly lean on them to guide us through this season.”

Natalie Bartholomew (Brandon) and Sammie Smith (Biloxi; D’Iberville) were an incredible 1-2 punch for the Wildcats a season ago. Smith racked up 233 kills, 175 digs, 41 block assists and four solo blocks on the season. Bartholomew was first on the team with a stellar 358 kills. She also had 285 digs, 27 block assists and 25 assists.

“Sammie and Natalie are going to be major offensive factors for us again this season,” Chatham said. “Together, they are our top scorers, but it’s interesting when comparing the two. They are quite different in their styles of play. I think that kind of offensive versatility will give us another edge this season. We are lucky to have them both.”

Sophomore Jolee Gibson (Brandon) will be a big option as a setter. She was second on the team last season with 423 assists. She chipped in 158 digs.

“Jolee is a great player. She gets complimented everywhere we go,” Chatham said. “Her hands are great, she’s quick-minded and fast-footed. You really can’t ask for much more than that from your setter.”

Lauren McLamore (Brandon) was primed to have a great freshman season as the libero in 2022 but missed the majority of the year due to injury.

“We are so happy to have Lauren back and healthy this season,” Chatham said. “She is such a fun player who has a reputation for making wild plays and turning tough balls into points. She brings great energy to the court and to our team.”

Addie McNeely (Brandon; Hartfield Academy) has made the switch to middle blocker for the 2023 season after featuring as an outside hitter as a freshman.

“She’s one of our longer players and the fastest on the net which makes her a perfect candidate for middle blocker. She’s taken the change in complete stride,” Chatham said. “She’s working hard in the gym and gets better at her new position every day.

Abbie Franks (Ocean Springs) will be another option at middle blocker. Last season, she finished with 46 block assists and three solo blocks. She also chipped in 61 kills.

“Abbie is working hard to get faster and stronger to really protect the middle this season,” Chatham said. “I’ve definitely seen more aggressive play out of her so far. She is establishing herself as a presence on the court and is on track to be exactly what our team needs at middle blocker.”

Delaney Sisson (Auburn, Ala.) will be another setter option for PRCC this season. As a freshman, she picked up 176 assists and 51 digs.

“Delaney brings some coveted characteristics as a setter,” Chatham said. “She’s vocal, sees the court well and is bossy in a good way. She aspires to be a coach in the future and I know she’ll be a great one. When she’s in the match, it’s like we have a coach on the court.”

Lillie Franks (Ocean Springs) will give the Wildcats an option at setter and opposite hitter. Last season, she picked up 45 assists, 37 kills and 16 digs.

“Lillie is a versatile player and is good at so many things. It’s difficult sometimes to decide exactly where we need her,” Chatham said. “She is settling into the right side nicely right now. She is blocking and attacking the ball well. She’s also a really good setter and one of the most aggressive servers on the team.”

Hannah French (Ocean Springs) racked up 93 digs in a reserve role as a freshman.

“Hannah progressed tremendously through the season last year,” Chatham said. “We will lean on her as a defensive specialist and she is passing and moving well on defense. She’s fun and easy to be around and coach. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, brings us comedic relief on the regular and I love that about her.”


Newcomers Madison Butler (Biloxi; D’Iberville) and Shelbi Harris (Sumrall; Purvis) will add two more setter options for the Wildcats.

“Madison is fierce and has a natural gift in setting. She’s also the kind of player who can do anything she decides to do. She’s a game-changer for her side of the court. She’s got to be one of the grittiest defensive setters to ever come through the program. Some kids get defined as a player who will run through a brick wall for her team. I watched her run through a metal door for her team some years ago. She’s that kind of competitor.

“Shelbi has good experience at setter, but she’s also a really fast and efficient defensive player, too. We can certainly use her speed on the court to get to balls that we usually wouldn’t get to. She’s very coachable and focused in the gym.”

Outside hitter Peyton Hoffmayer (Ocean Springs) will be the third dual-sport athlete in three years for Chatham’s Wildcats, following in the footsteps of Sydney Salter and Julianah Overstreet. Hoffmayer will suit up for softball in the spring.

“She is so athletic and on top of that, she puts in hours and hours to perfect her craft,” Chatham said. She’s been so consistent and fundamentally sound during the preseason. She’s got an explosive attack and a killer swing.”

Madi King (Leakesville; Greene County) will factor into the middle blocker rotation.

“Madi is such a deliberate, cerebral player. She rarely makes mistakes, and she’s one of those players you can count on,” Chatham said. “She is picking up speed and adjusting nicely. She has good size and is physically strong. She’s also one of the most coachable players I’ve ever had. When you combine all those attributes, it’s easy to see why we are happy to have her here.”

Allie Varner (Madison; Germantown) is a defensive specialist by trade, but her versatility has been impressive in the early going.

“Allie is such a hustler and is quickly working herself into a spot in the lineup,” Chatham said. “We recruited her as a defensive specialist, but she has come in and shown some major versatility. We can be successful with her in a couple of different positions.”

An outside hitter, Annalaura Williford (Bay St. Louis; Our Lady Academy) comes to PRCC after a decorated high school career, winning two 3A State Championships and one runner-up finish.

“Annalaura was a no-brainer for us from the minute she came to visit campus,” Chatham said. “She has had top-notch training and comes from one of the most successful high school programs in Mississippi. She has good size and a powerful attack. She is adjusting well in preseason and has shown versatility. Annalaura plays with a steadiness that adds value to our roster.”

Kyleigh Passeau (Lucedale; George County) will be an option on the defensive side for the Wildcats.

“Kyleigh is a lefty who can fly, she plays outstanding defense and isn’t afraid of making gusty plays. She’s also been a setter in her club team. Kyleigh is a tremendous athlete who played multiple sports in high school. She has a maturity at 19 that is rare to find. She doesn’t lose her cool in chaos, and she’s a calming presence we will need to lean on.”


Pearl River begins its season Saturday with a 1 p.m. against Coastal Alabama – East.


To help improve traffic flow and fan experience, PRCC athletics box offices are cashless. Only credit and debit cards will be accepted at the box office. Fans are encouraged to beat the lines and purchase their tickets in advance at or fans can download the HomeTown Ticketing app to their mobile device to purchase and store their tickets.


Tickets for the 2023 Pearl River soccer season are available now at! General admission tickets are $8 or a season-pass can be purchased for $63.


The Wildcats will once again livestream all matches for free at Fans who have Roku, Amazon Fire or Apple TV devices can also watch the Wildcat broadcasts by downloading the “Pearl River CC” channel from their app stores.

For the latest on Pearl River Community College athletics, follow us on Twitter (@PRCCAthletics) and Facebook (PRCCAthletics).