Bulldogs want redemption after rough showing at State

Douglass coach Leanna Braddy came right out and admitted that the Bulldogs did not have a good showing at the Class 3A state tournament last year. Other than a couple players who made it to State and played some as freshmen, no one on last year’s team knew what to expect.

“Once we saw the competition, we choked,” said senior Hailey Braddy.

“It was a shell shock for most them….” Leanna said of the Bulldogs. “I think they were kind of embarrassed on how they played, because that was probably the worst they’d ever played. That made them work harder this summer. Like, our offense, making it faster. Working on ‘I know my weakness is defense.’ So they were doing individual things to help themselves out, but also they were like ‘We’ve got to work on this as a team.”

The Bulldogs are using that as motivation this year. Douglass returns several top hitters, including All-State Honorable Mention selection Hailey Braddy, as well as a couple strong middles and defensive specialists. This time around, the Bulldogs want be stronger on the mental side of things.

“Not be timid,” senior Nellie Green said the Bulldogs learned from State. “…I think we need to be more confident. We know we can do it.”

Hailey, who has committed to play volleyball at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Okla., led the Bulldogs with 315 kills (8.1 per match), but also made 251 digs (6.4) and even added 12 blocks. As the go-to hitter, Hailey wants to keep elevating her game.

“Just keep being one of the top hitters, make as few errors as possible,” Hailey said, “and be positive with everyone. Sometimes I have problems with that.”

Hailey may be one of the elite hitters around, but the Bulldogs’ offense will be versatile and aims to take advantage of several other strong hitters.

“When I’m back row, we have strong front-row hitters, so I’m not the only hitter who can go out there and pound it,” Hailey said. “We’ve got a lot more strong hitters. And our setters are getting a lot better. They can do some trick plays instead of just always shooting it out there.”

Green, played on the back side as a defensive specialist last season, now has improved enough to be the frontrunner for the libero position, one of the key openings this season.

“She’s got speed on her, and she works hard,” Leanna said of Green.

Green said she also has a great serve-receive game, and she’s looking forward to leading younger players around her to get better.

“Encouragement. A lot of them just aren’t confident in their skills. They just have to be reminded,” Green said.

At 5-foot-11, senior Sarah Hadjukovic has emerged as a reliable blocker, but Leanna also has seen improvement with her offense, making the Bulldogs’ lineup more dangerous across the board.

“When her timing is on, she’s got the power. She’s probably one of my most powerful girls,” Leanna said of Hadjukovic.

Junior Cashlyn Munroe also is a strong option on offense. She averaged 4.9 kills and 3.3 digs per match and added 74 aces and 23 blocks last year. Madison Woody (5’10” soph.) brings more height at the middle blocker position. She had 90 kills and 43 blocks last year.

Leanna is running a 6-2 offense with senior Shelby Bergley as the team’s main setter. She averaged 9.8 assists per match in 2013. Three other girls are in competition for the second setter position.

“She’s my talker. She runs my offense,” Leanne said. “She’s telling everyone, ‘This is what I’m going to do,’ or ‘Be ready for that.’”