Desoto County Sports

Northwest’s Jacia Hayes to compete at next level

Northwest multi-sport athlete Jacia Hayes will continue her volleyball career at the four-year level next season, as the Pearl native recently signed with the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.

Hayes had a stellar career for the Lady Rangers in her two seasons on the court, helping Northwest to the NJCAA Region 23 title as a freshman. She concluded her two seasons under coach Allison Burchyett as the program’s all-time leader in kills (533) and total blocks (167).

“Being able to call UAFS my new home is like a dream come true,” Hayes said. “I never thought I could find another college so similar to Northwest with an amazing environment and people. I am so thankful to Coach Burchyett for giving me the opportunity to grow, not only as an athlete, but as a person as well. Without her, none of this would have been possible.”

In her sophomore season, Hayes collected 367 kills, 83 total blocks and 69 digs. One of her best performances of the past season came on September 5, 2023, when she was credited with 18 kills and nine digs in a win against John Melvin University. Hayes also posted nine assists in a match against Gadsden State on Sept. 9 and six blocks in a Sept. 8 match at Wallace State-Hanceville.

As a freshman, Hayes finished with 166 kills and 81 total blocks, earning a season-best 11 kills in a match at Rust College on Sept. 11, 2022 and a season-high eight blocks in an Oct. 21 victory against Itawamba.

Additionally, Hayes also suited up for the Northwest women’s basketball team this season, helping coach LaTaryl Williams’ squad to a 15-11 overall record and an appearance in the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament. Hayes played in all 26 games, earning 12 starts, while averaging 7.0 rebounds per game, 6.5 points per game and 22 blocks on the season.

“She has been a big part of our program the past two years,” Burchyett said. “She is someone who can be the glue for your team. She is an excellent teammate and you can’t do your job without her. I am excited for her to continue her career at Arkansas-Fort Smith and I look forward to all the new and exciting things she will do there.”

Hayes is the third member of the Lady Rangers’ 2023 squad to sign to the four-year level, joining Cristen Cleveland (Lyon College) and Caroline Howard (Blue Mountain Christian University).

UAFS competes in the Lone Star Conference at the NCAA Division II level. The Lions compiled a 22-8 overall record last fall, falling in five sets to fifth-ranked Texas A&M-Kingsville in the LSC Championship match.