Bailey Brooks is enjoying her senior season at Van Buren High School.
The team improved to 14-8-1 after defeating Rogers in five sets and is 5-3 in the 6A West on Tuesday night. The squad hosted Bentonville on Thursday and will participate in the Southside tournament starting today in Fort Smith.
“It’s been a lot of fun. This is a close-knit group and you don’t see it that often, so it makes it fun,” said Brooks.
Volleyball has been a part of Brooks for 11 years starting with the YMCA in the Houston, Texas, area and playing for various teams over the years. Her family moved to the Van Buren area about five years ago.
“You get more of the sense of a community here in Arkansas,” Brooks said. “Everyone seems to get along. We don’t have a lot of the drama, which allows us to have fun and enjoy our senior year.”
The click of playing together for the past four seasons has paid off for these seniors as they begin the second half of the 6A West conference season.
Van Buren defeated Rogers 25-23, 22-25, 26-24, 21-25, 15-10.
Madalyn Doolittle led with 24 kills in the contest. Grace Doolittle added 10 kills while Brooks and Zoe Morrison chipped in six kills each. Bri Ball had a team-high 35 assists and Brooke Moore added 17 digs.
“It seems like they have turned it on the past few games,” said Van Buren coach Brent Reeves. “What I like about Bailey is that brings high energy to the team. When she has that energy, the team is powered and it raises their energy level as well.”
“We definitely know our strengths and weaknesses. We trust each other. We know how to talk to each other and where to help,” Brooks said.
When a new season is starting to form, the team or the seniors on the team will select someone as the leader, or who would share the leadership of the team. The seniors for the Lady Pointers decided they will collectively lead the team as a class.
“The team is better with all the seniors leading together, and each taking a part of the leadership,” said Reeves.
Van Buren finished the weekend winning four of the six games at the Hot Springs Lakeside tournament. The Lady Pointers defeated Heber Springs, Little Rock Christian, Marion, and Walnut Ridge. They lost to host Lakeside in three sets, 25-19, 22-25, 15-8.
The Lady Pointers travel to Rogers this afternoon and will host Bentonville on Thursday. Van Buren defeated Rogers in three sets back on Sept. 5, but dropped all three sets to Bentonville five days later.
Van Buren will also participate in the Southside tournament this weekend.
“We are a lot more prepared this time around (for the conference) and we have more confidence,” Brooks said. “We’ve made a few changes in our line-up, and we’ll be ready to do a good job. We always enjoy playing Southside. Some of us have played club ball with players from Southside and it’s always good to go up against them. There’s a lot of tension there. When Southside beat us at the state tournament… it hurt. It’s always fun seeing them again, but we want to beat them.”
Like most seniors, Brooks’s future is still a bit uncertain, but she knows she would still like to keep playing volleyball at the next level.
“I will miss the activities in high school, all the games like volleyball, football and basketball, and the pep rallies. It’ll be tough going from being around all these people all the time to suddenly everyone just going off in their own direction. I’m going to miss them.”
Brooks has played just about every other sport but keeps coming back to volleyball.
“You have to be passionate about playing volleyball,” Brooks said. “It’s a fast-paced game and you have to focus and keep moving. You might score, but you’ll have a lot of fun. If you find your groove and your group, you can turn it into a family.”