Digging it: MSU's Harris one of best defenders in history of MSU volleyball

Payton Harris
Staff Writer

It takes quite a bit of skill and reflexes to be good at digging in the sport of volleyball.

Over the years, no one has done it better at Mississippi State than Payton Harris.

Harris, who plays her final home match with the Bulldogs today, became the all-time digs leader at the school earlier this year. With 317 digs this season, she now has a career total of 1,834. That stands fifth in Southeastern Conference history.

MSU head coach David McFatrich has had a front row seat in watching Harris perform her craft.

“Payton Harris is one of the best defenders and servers I’ve ever coached,” McFatrich said. “She was a very good leader for our young squad this year. If we compiled a highlight reel of all the great plays she has made, we would be watching for several hours.”

Breaking records was not the most important thing for Harris in her time with the Bulldogs, but she was glad to be able to accomplish the feat in Starkville.

“I’m very proud to have done it for this university and left a lasting impression here,” Harris said. ”The school has supported us through the wins and the losses. The school, the people and fans have stuck through it all with us. We couldn’t have better fans. We have some of the best fans in the country.”

This has been a transition season for MSU as the young team has taken its share of lumps. The Bulldogs have records of 9-22 overall and 0-16 in the SEC.

Harris said this has been a “big learning year” for the team and the newcomers have made progress.

“A lot of times you will come into as a D-I SEC school and as a freshman, you most likely will sit in the bench because you’ll have a lot of older girls and more experienced,” Harris said. “We have such a young team that us making sure they are ready immediately was a big challenge. I think they stepped up and I’m looking forward to seeing what they will be in the future. I think will be a force to be reckoned with in a couple of years.”

Harris and Jelena Vujcin will be recognized prior to Wednesday’s 3 p.m. match against Texas A&M as the only two seniors on the roster for MSU.

It will be an emotional time for Harris because many members of her family will be present at Newell-Grissom Building. She wants to be under control so she can give the best effort she can for the Bulldogs.

“You still have a game to win,” Harris said. “I kind of want to give (her family) the best performance I can give them for my last one to be at State and just go out with a bang.”