A Q&A With Chanelle Baker

With volleyball practice now in full swing Gene's Page did a one-on-one interview with Mississippi State freshman volleyball player Chanelle Baker.

When did you first start playing volleyball?
"I actually started volleyball in the 7th grade. I had only played basketball at the time but they didn't have a lot of volleyball players, so I decided to try out. I started out at center. I don't really know how that happened. Then I had a growth spurt and they moved me to middle. So, ever since then I've played middle. But when (Coach) Jenny (Hazelwood) recruited me she told me that I would have to play the outside."

Why did she want you on the outside?
"Normally, the middles are a little taller and I have always been an explosive player so I had always played middle."

How long have you played outside?
"I've learned this year, seven months, right after I came back from my surgery."

What kind of surgery did you have?
"I had a reconstructive surgery on my left thumb. I thought I had jammed it so I kept playing with it. I had fractured it and tore all the ligaments. It's 100% now."

When did you hurt it?
"I did it the summer of my junior year. And I'm not one of those people who like to sit out so I kept playing. But I found out it was broken so I ended up having to wear a brace. We were about to go to nationals. Right after nationals, my school's workouts started. I had to decide between missing high school volleyball or club volleyball. So, I decided I would miss part of club and finish out my high school volleyball career. Originally, they told me that I didn't need surgery, then I found out later that I did need it."

How long did you play with it hurt?
"I played about five months before they told me that I needed surgery. They had me in and out of the cast. He said it should have been fixed by then but it was moving ever which way."

Was it not painful playing with that injury?
"It was but eventually I got used to it. I taped it and I wore a protective brace that I had to hide under all the tape."

What are your thoughts about your head coach Jenny Hazelwood?
"I like her. She has her mind on what she wants to do and where she wants this program to go. And that exactly what Mississippi State needs. I think she can turn this program around and do great things."

Since you've been here what are your thoughts about the Mississippi State team?.
"I've noticed that our team has a lot of heart and is willing to work hard. No one gives up in the workouts. This team wants to get better and they want to win."

What did you specifically try to improve on this summer?
"Since I got moved to this new position I really wanted to work on learning how to transition, the defense. I've never played back row until this year. It was always my goal to play back row. Now that I'm there I want to work on perfecting that skill."

I interviewed Hilary Hunt, one of your teammates, and her mother played volleyball. Did any of your family members play volleyball?
"My dad, who is 6-6, played basketball but no one played volleyball in my family. I have a little sister who plays, too. She's going to be a junior this year. Her name is Tiffany Baker. She's 6-3."

Where do you see the Mississippi State volleyball program being in the next two to three years?
"I don't want to sound too ambitious but I hope we win the SEC championship in the next two years. The recruits that we have coming in are supposed to help out a lot. And we are working too hard not to get there."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

Gene's Page Top Stories