Caledonia High School senior Bailie Cross will play next week in the Mississippi Association of Coaches Senior All-Star Volleyball game at Millsaps College in Jackson. Photo by: Adam Minichino/Dispatch Staff Buy this photo.
July 13, 2017 10:24:31 AM
CALEDONIA -- Seeing her name with some of the state's best volleyball players makes Bailie Cross smile.
It also helps her realize this year will be the last season she plays volleyball for the Caledonia High School, so she plans to make the most of it.
That's why Cross has stayed busy since the end of the 2016 high school volleyball season. She played basketball for Caledonia High to help stay in shape. Cross stayed active on the club volleyball scene. She also has worked hard in the offseason on conditioning and skill development so her final high school season isn't the end of her volleyball career.
Cross' next step in that journey will come at 6 p.m. Wednesday when she plays for the North team in the Mississippi Association of Coaches All-Star game at Millsaps College's Hangar Dome in Jackson.
The annual game features some of the state's top players. They are broken into two teams (North and South). Cross is the only player from the area who was selected. She will be a member of the 12-person North squad.
"I feel like my hard work paid off, and I am super excited about the opportunity," Cross said. "I think it will be great to play with new people and to meet girls I have never played with."
Cross, a 5-foot-4 do-it-all-player, has been a leader for several seasons at Caledonia High. She honed her skills this past year on the club scene with Level Elite's 18s. Mississippi University for Women assistant volleyball coach Brooke Beasley coached Cross.
Cross said her dream is to play volleyball in college, which is why the opportunity to play on the state's biggest stage for the sport could help her attract attention from coaches.
Cross said she has talked with volleyball coaches at the University of Texas at Dallas and at Jacksonville State about the possibilities of playing there. She also said The W is a possibility. The Columbus school will welcome intercollegiate athletics back to the campus this year.
Cross said she hopes to play in every rotation this season to help her team, even if she knows she likely will be a back-row player, possibly a defensive specialist, in college.
Caledonia High volleyball coach Samantha Brooks said the All-Star game will give Cross a chance to showcase her skills. She said the experience also will benefit the Lady Confederates because Cross' teammates will get to pick up things she learns.
"She has worked so hard in the offseason," Brooks said. "She has played since she was young. She plays club ball. She tried basketball to stay in shape. She continues to work on her footwork."
Brooks said Cross goes "above and beyond" to make herself and her teammates better. That's why she feels the recognition is well deserved.
"Her passion for the sport drives her to go above and beyond," Brooks said. "She absolutely loves it. She wants to do it as much as she can do it."
Brooks said Cross is a natural leader who is encouraging and vocal. She said her passion for volleyball is infectious and motivates her teammates to play with similar spirit.
Cross plans to bring that enthusiasm to the All-Star game. Once she learned she was selected, she worked hard to improve all of her skills because she wanted to make the most of all of the years and hard work playing the sport.
"This is something that really proves my work has been paying off," Cross said. "I need to work so much harder than I have been working. I stayed after practice and had extra balls hit at me and I worked on my serve. I know this will be a one-time opportunity, so I need to play the best I possibly can."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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