At 21-9 overall, the Golden Eagles are poised to make a run in the Conference USA postseason tournament. Senior middle blocker Elise Ames and the Golden Eagles got off to their best start in school history this season.
Ames has seen the volleyball program through its ups and downs, from 8-20 to C-USA title contender. Ames believes the good start was attributed to the team’s personalities.
“Wehavealotoffunonthe court,” Ames said. “We feed off each other’s excitement.”
Ames, a three-year letterman from Wildwood, Missouri, has started every match since her sophomore year and has become one of the anchors for a young team.
“As a senior, I am really glad we were able to start the season off with a bang and win a lot of big matches,” Ames said.
When Ames looked to play on the next level, she knew that she wanted to be in the South for college.
The moment she stepped on the Southern Miss campus, she knew it felt right and it would be the perfect fit. The same can be said about Ames to the Golden Eagles program.
As a freshman, Ames saw limited action in 15 matches. It was not until her second year on campus that her presence would be felt. As a sophomore, she started in all 31 matches for a squad that went 17-14. Ames registered 276 kills and led the team with a .366 attack percentage. Last season, as a junior, she finished the season with 221 kills and 106 total blocks.
Ames’ steady production is seen on the court as well as in the record books, as her .321 hitting percentage is among the best in Southern Miss history. She sits at second in C-USA this year in blocks and ranks among the all-time Southern Miss leaders in solo blocks, block assists and total blocks.
The team’s youth has been more of a strength rather than a weakness to a team in a solid volleyball conference.
“This year we have a lot (of) underclassmen that have stepped in to fill big roles on the court and they’re doing a really great job.”
In regards to her favorite moment of her senior season, Ames mentioned the Bama Bash Tournament.
“We proved everybody wrong with our wins against Alabama and Tulsa,” Ames said. “That’s the tournament that I feel we showed who Southern Miss volleyball really is.”
Southern Miss (8-5 C-USA) is fifth in the conference standings. The top eight teams advance to the C-USA postseason tournament. Three games separate the Golden Eagles from ninth place.
With her senior season winding down and the pressure ramping, Ames’ belief in her team remains strong.
“When we are bringing energy on the court I feel like we could beat anybody,” Ames said.
USM will travel to Huntington, West Virginia, Oct. 6 to face Marshall. Southern Miss will return to the Reed Green Coliseum to play the final two home games of Ames’ collegiate career against Charlotte and UTSA.