Caledonia High School volleyball coach Samantha Brooks talks with her players during the team’s preseason match against the school’s baseball team. Photo by: Dispatch File Photo
October 9, 2018 9:50:57 AM
CALEDONIA -- Maddy Suggs and Tori Brooks have similar goals even though they play different positions.
As juniors, Suggs, a libero and setter and Brooks, a middle hitter/outside hitter, have been invested in the Caledonia High School volleyball program for years. The return they have earned explains why it's natural for them to finish each other's sentences when they are asked why this year's team has had so much success.
"Everyone comes to practice every day trying to be better and they're putting other things aside that would normally occupy their time just to try to better the team," Suggs said. "This year, everyone sees the goal is reachable and we're all trying to better each other. I think that has affected us more than in previous years."
Caledonia (26-8, 7-0 Class II, Region 4) will look to complete a perfect run through region play when it takes on Amory at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Caledonia coach Samantha Brooks said 2013 is believed to be the last time the program had a perfect region record. The Lady Confederates also finished first in their region in 2014, but records are incomplete.
Caledonia moved closer to the region title by rallying for a five-set victory against Lafayette on Sept. 27. The Lady Confederates dropped the first two sets before storming back. Tori Brooks led the way with 18 kills. Ansley Brown had 17 digs. Maddy Suggs had 16, and Camryn Johnson had 36 assists, five kills, and four aces.
Last week, Caledonia inched even closer to the title with victories against New Hope (3-0 in the second-annual Dig Pink match) and Pontotoc (3-0). As has been the case all season, Caledonia has received contributions from everyone on the roster. Despite not having a lack of height, Brooks praised the Lady Confederates for their ability to have fun and to know when it's time to focus. As a result, she said the team has been able to play each point and to avoid slumps after a mistake.
"Everyone has taken on an important role this year in their positions and toward their team goal as well as the individual goals they set for themselves," Brooks said. "The girls aren't limited to their positions. They are able to work well through out-of-system plays."
Brooks said that continuity stems from the fact that there are eight juniors and two seniors (Lizzie Truelock and Peyton Enger) who have played together for several years. She said it also helps that several players have gained additional experience playing club volleyball.
Suggs and Tori Brooks are two of the Lady Confederates who play club volleyball. Suggs said Brooks is one of the team's key offensive players. She said Brooks is a "smart" player who knows how to generate kills whether it is by a hard swing or by a tip. Brooks said Suggs is a "really good leader" and the most aggressive player on the team.
"No matter where the ball is she is there," Brooks said of Suggs. 'She is always trying to be a good example for the younger kids, even the older players."
Suggs said this year's team realizes it has talent and that it is possible for it to reach its goal, which is a Class II State title. A victory today likely would finalize the first step of that journey for Oct. 18, when Caledonia would play host to the runner-up in Region 2. Coach Brooks said that likely would be Lewisburg, a team Caledonia lost to earlier this season and has never defeated. Still, she said she likes her team's chances if there is a rematch because the Lady Confederates played a tough match the first time. She hopes the final regular-season match and the next week of practice will help round everything into shape.
Suggs and Tori Brooks aren't surprised the Lady Confederates have had such a successful season. She said the dividends they have earned to this point stem from a "determined" approach in the preseason that encouraged all of the players to push through and to continue to work hard. The players said that mentality has enabled them to have fun to outlast opponents.
While a region title would be wonderful, coach Brooks and all of her players have their sights set higher.
"We worked our tails off this summer," Suggs said. "We always have, but this season it just seems like there is something different about it. It seems like everyone instead of doing it halfway we'll see half the results, everyone is putting in 100 percent and pushing each time to be better and to make it more focused."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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