By Tony Adams
The 2016 Belton Lady Tigers volleyball team has been challenged constantly by the competition and has been in some tight spots.
“For the new system that we implemented and the way that the team responded, I was pleased with their work,” Belton head coach Krystal Brodbeck said. “I’m very hopeful for the future and taking this season and building upon it.”
“After being here last year and seeing the role players that we lost, I knew that this would be an uphill battle,” Belton assistant coach Whitney Stout said. “With having players that were on the team that saw limited playing time, they were all supportive and stayed positive all of the time. They were all steps in the right direction.”
The seniors on the team have had to step up and be leaders for first-year head coach Brodbeck.
Cameron Kasberg, Breanna Farrell, Chloe Bush and Dana Young have been the leaders of this young team, which has nine returners projected for 2017.
Bush, a two-year member of the Lady Tigers, is an outside hitter and middle blocker who is not afraid to get her nose skinned up in tough spots. A gritty blocker, a tough customer and nothings’ out-of-play digger, Bush’s resolve and dedication to “one more” is evident in practice and in play.
“Chloe is a leader by example,” Brodbeck said. “She’s tenacious and wants to get out there and do everything that she can for her teammates. It did not bother her one bit that she was half of the size of some of the players out there. It made her work harder. She cares deeply for her teammates. She led the team on and off of the court this year and has a heart for other people around her. She has that push and that drive. She has an authentic personality.”
“I have watched Chloe grow over the past three years,” added Stout. “We have worked with her on playing within herself and I feel this year that she did that. The growth that she had on the court and off of it was awesome.”
Her leadership was very evident on the court. But many don’t have a chance to see practices and how leaders motivate in practice.
“In her nature, she doesn’t prefer to be confrontational,” Brodbeck said. “She doesn’t have a problem with stepping in when she feels necessary. There were times in practice during the season where she halted the practice just to address the team if she felt that the level of play wasn’t up there. I’m thinking of one practice in particular where the team was going through the motions and she handled it. It showed the level of leadership that she brings.”
Young is in her first year on the Lady Tigers’ varsity. She was an anchor for the junior varsity team and has been a constant in the Lady Tigers’ volleyball program. She was a libero and a defensive special on JV in 2014-2015 and has seen significant time on the floor this season. She exemplifies dedication to conditioning, as she has qualified for the state powerlifting meet the past two seasons at the 132-pound level, finishing second in 2015 and fifth in 2016.
“Dana didn’t care what her role was, as long as she was on the team,” Stout said. “She did everything that was asked of her. Even in games that she didn’t play in, she would come up to us in the next practice and tell us she wasn’t giving up and was going to get that spot back.”
“She was relentless and had the best team spirit,” Brodbeck said. “She never checked out. She always stayed actively engaged and had an eagerness and desire. You could look in her eyes and know that 1. Cared about her team and 2. Do anything we asked of her. Even on those tough nights and games during the season where she didn’t see floor time, she carried that spirit. It spoke volumes to the season that she ended with, because of her selfless attitude.”
Farrell, a two-year member of the Lady Tigers, is a setter who is steady in front of the net and is one of the team’s go-to forces in serving. Smooth and unflappable in the clutch, she has set up some earth-shaking kills for Jamie Janczak, Elecia Jackson and LéDea Harris this season in matches.
“Breanna is one of the most underrated athletes in the entire school and very competitive,” Brodbeck said. “She has a fire out there. Because she is a quiet leader, she gets overlooked. She was one of our “quarterbacks” of the floor. She did an amazing job and always had that hustle and the drive.”
“Her athletic ability almost blows you away,” Stout said. “She never quits on a ball and she’s had amazing growth this year. She’s one of those kids where it is hard to explain, but the team is better when she is on the floor. At 5-5, she played front line for us the second half of district.”
Farrell compartmentalized adversity very well.
“She absolutely internalizes things and make herself better,” Brodbeck said. “That’s part of the reason why we implemented her jump serve. She kept a cool, calm disposition.”
Kasberg, a two-year member of the Lady Tigers, is a defensive specialist who missed some time this season. When in the lineup, she has contributed significantly in the serving game and digging. She was critical in the match against Harker Heights last Friday, serving a streak of points that helped the Lady Tigers rally from a one-game deficit to win in four games.
“Cammie is one of the sweetest kids that I have coached,” Brodbeck said. “She and I had a conversation early in the season and I knew from that point that she wanted to be on this team, wanted to be on the floor and support her teammates. I think her selflessness and positive energy really supported the team.”
“She has fight behind the smile,” Stout added. “I have been coaching her seventh grade. That kid has heart and fight.”
The depth of the program is great, as Brodbeck has a majority of her team projected to return in 2017. With a solid cast in the junior varsity and freshman ranks, as well as incoming freshmen from North Belton, Lake Belton and South Belton Middle Schools, the cupboard is not bare by any stretch.
“I am so excited for the depth of our program,” Brodbeck said. “We have learned a great deal about our program and the talent within it. Spring volleyball and the summer Centex League will be a great build up to next season.”