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FALL ALL-AREA: Volleyball: By taking a step back, Sanders’ play steps up

SEE MORE HERE: Volleyball Capsules

Colonial Forge junior Brooke Sanders admits she let her frustrations impact her game when she first started playing for the Eagles. The Free Lance–Star volleyball player of the year made great strides by being more ‘laid back.’. (Photo by Marie Sicola / THE FREE LANCE–STAR)

BY NATHAN WARTERS

THE FREE LANCE–STAR

Colonial Forge junior Brooke Sanders felt more like herself on the volleyball court this season.

In her first two years with the Eagles, she was admittedly shy and sometimes let her frustrations show. This season, she was more laid back and tried to be more encouraging to her teammates.

As she felt more natural on the volleyball court, her skill took over, and she had a phenomenal season in helping lead Colonial Forge to the Group AAA, Northwest Region quarterfinals.

    FALL ALL-AREA TEAMS

    This week, The Free Lance-Star is unveiling our fall high school All-Area teams. Here is the schedule:

    Tuesday: Golf

    Wednesday: Cross country (Boys / Girls)

    TODAY: Volleyball

    Friday: Field hockey

    Saturday: Football All-Area team and coach of the year

    Sunday: Football player of the year

“I’m actually a very bubbly person,” said Sanders, The Free Lance–Star’s volleyball player of the year. “I would describe myself as that, but I think in the past years I’ve been kind of shy and I get real frustrated easily when we’re playing. I think this year I was kind kind of laid-back and was like, ‘Hey, you’ve got the next ball. You’ve got it. You can do it.’”

Sanders, a skilled setter, played multiple roles for the Eagles this year. She moved to hitter early in the season as an injury replacement before moving back to her natural position at the end of the year.

She finished the season with 537 assists, 195 kills and 205 digs, and she was voted Commonwealth District player of the year and first-team All-Northwest Region.

“She had a great season,” Colonial Forge coach Keith Mesa said. “She worked real hard to become the player that she is. She played multiple roles. At the end of the season, she was setting and hitting and was leading our team in assists and was second in kills.”

Mesa said Sanders is one of the most naturally gifted setters he’s ever had, and she showed a lot of growth on the court this season.

“Between her sophomore and junior years, she really developed mentally as a kid, just as far as making correct decisions within our offense,” Mesa said. “Brooke struggled a little bit when she was younger, and to me that was the biggest difference her ability to quickly make decisions within the offense this year as opposed to last year.”

Sanders took a simpler approach to playing the game and let her talent lead her on the court.

“I’ve been playing so long where it comes to a point where when you’re playing, you kind of just go with it,” Sanders said. “You don’t really think about it as much.

“I think that’s what I did my sophomore year. I thought about what I was doing every play and what I had to do the next play and what I had to do to make coach Mesa happy, but junior year I kind of went with what my passers were giving me, what my hitters were giving me, and I kind of made plays based on that, and with that came better success.”

Along with fellow junior Hope Kelley, Sanders helped bring stability to a young team that featured two freshmen and a sophomore in key spots.

Sanders was a strong influence on her younger teammates.

“To have somebody with that experience, that also helps for her to have a younger kid be able to watch her play the game and learn from her as far as how she operates within the offensive system,” Mesa said. “I thought that was a big part of what she was able to do.”

Sanders has one more year of high school volleyball remaining, and she said she wants to take the next step and make the state playoffs.

With her skill and tenacity on the court, the Eagles have a talented setter to get them there.

“Technique-wise, Brooke is the best setter we’ve had here,” Mesa said. “And she’s very aggressive. She’s not scared to make plays.”

Nathan Warters: 540/374-5442

nwarters@freelancestar.com

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