THS set to host Samford, Jacksonville State in volleyball exhibition on April 3

Published 1:46 pm Thursday, March 21, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

Warrior Arena has played host to some of the best volleyball talent in the state over the years, and now, that will once again include two of Alabama’s best college volleyball programs.

Thompson High School will host an exhibition match between Samford and Jacksonville State on Wednesday, April 3 at 6 p.m. at Warrior Arena.

“I’m super excited for our community to have the chance to see very high-level NCAA Division I volleyball,” Thompson varsity volleyball coach Judy Green said. “Major programs around the country are now playing their spring matches at local high schools and Thompson Volleyball is thrilled to host both of these teams.”

While this is not the first time Thompson High School has hosted a college volleyball exhibition, it presents another opportunity for Alabaster residents to catch some of the state’s best volleyball players while staying close to home.

The match has even more of a special meaning for Thompson senior outside hitter Chloe Mittelstadt. She signed with Jacksonville State following her senior season with the Warriors and will get to watch her future college team on her current home court.

Mittelstadt earned the 2023 Shelby County Player of the Year award behind her 458 kills, +.320 hitting average, 251 digs and eight double-doubles as the Warriors reached the Elite Eight.

While neither Samford nor Jacksonville State currently have Thompson players on their roster, the exhibition will be a homecoming to Shelby County for a pair of stars.

Briarwood Christian alum Audrey O’Brien recently completed her senior season as a libero for the Bulldogs, and former Oak Mountain player Kathryn Smith will play setter for the Gamecocks.

The exhibition is one of four that Samford will play this spring. The Bulldogs faced Ole Miss and Troy at home on Feb. 25 and will play crosstown foe UAB on Friday, April 5 at the Pete Hanna Center, just two days after the Jacksonville State exhibition.

Samford went 16-15 in the 2023 season as it reached the finals of the SoCon conference tournament. The Bulldogs won the SoCon tournament championship in 2022 and have reached the NCAA volleyball tournament four times in the past six seasons.

Jacksonville State looks to bounce back from a 5-22 campaign in its first season in Conference USA after previously finding success in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

It will be the first meeting between the two programs since the 2022 regular season when the Gamecocks won 3-1 in Jacksonville.