“Because we are so young this season, we had to be very selective with who we sign for next year,” Hazelwood said. “Payton and Ericka are two of the top players that we feel fit our program the best. I couldn’t be more excited to have these two individuals at Mississippi State both on and off the court.”
Harris is a standout libero/defensive specialist from Houston, Texas, that has starred four years at Cy-Fair High School. During that time, her team has posted a perfect 72-0 record in district play and earned 15-5A Varsity District Champions. Harris led the district in digs and broke her high school digs record her junior year en route to earning First-Team All-District honors and honorable mention All-Texas Team honors.
Named one of Vype Magazine’s “Hottest Hard Court Prospects,” she also played six years with the Willowbrook Volleyball Club where her 16 Red and 17 Red teams competed in the Junior Olympics. Each of those teams also clinched the Northeastern Qualifier Championships.
The daughter of James and Sandra Harris, she has also been on the academic honor roll since 2011 and earned 2012-13 Academic All-District honors.
“Payton is a great competitor that knows how to win,” Hazelwood said. “She’ll be a great addition to our back row and provide some always important depth. Payton has played at a very high level for many years and is a player that can immediately contribute to our success.”
Coached by Donna Benotti, Harris’ Bobcats are currently 44-3, 18-0 and are only two matches away from the University Interscholastic League State Championship match.
Timberlake, an athletic outside hitter from Frisco, Texas, joins the Bulldogs after starring four years at Heritage High School under the direction of head coach Laura Derdeyn. She led her team to three-straight playoff appearances, including the Area Championship in 2012.
Listed as a one of the “Top 100 Queens of the Court” by Vype Magazine, Timberlake posted 462 kills (4.05/set) and 529 digs (4.64/set) during her senior year, which earned her a top-25 ranking in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The two-time All-District team member led her squad in kills for both her freshman and sophomore years as well as ranked in the top-10 in kills in Class 4A during 2011.
The daughter of Kimberly and Rosco Timberlake, Sr., played four years with the Dallas Skyline Junior Volleyball Club coached by Jason Williams, Kirk Perry and Landon Carpenter. During her team’s run to the 2012 USAV Nationals Silver Medal, Timberlake earned USAV Nationals All-Tournament Team laurels. In 2013, she earned the Skyline Award, which is given to the most valuable player on each team.
“Ericka fits in extremely well in our front row and like Payton, knows what it takes to be a winner,” Hazelwood said. “Ericka is a very athletic hitter that has a strong arm. She also has the potential to play all six-rotations as she develops as a player.”
The 2013 Bulldogs will face No. 17 Kentucky Friday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. followed by Georgia on Sunday, Nov. 17, at 1:30 p.m. Both matches will be in the friendly confines of the Newell-Grissom Building and Sunday’s match will mark the team’s annual Faculty/Staff Appreciation Match.