October 1, 2010 2:47:00 PM
CALEDONIA -- The sum of the parts of the Caledonia High School volleyball team have carried it to greater heights this season.
Led by a senior class that includes Ashley Dodson and Macy Hicks, the Lady Confederates have overcome the loss of six seniors to graduation and have incorporated new players into the mix to make 2010 even more successful than last season.
Last week, Caledonia defeated Aberdeen 3-2 to win the Region 1, District 1 title. The victory earned Caledonia the chance to play host to Lafayette at 3 p.m. Saturday in the first round of the Class 1 State Tournament.
Caledonia coach Samantha Brooks said the team''s attitude and togetherness have been keys this season. She said the fact that the squad played in a summer league in June helped it to identify areas of concern that were addressed in time for the start of the season.
"I think we have a group of seniors who are good leaders and they want to win," Brooks said. "You can tell it affects them. Their heart is on the court."
The passion the players have for volleyball overshadows any egos or individual concerns. Dodson and Hicks, who are primary hitters, agree they are far from the team''s best player, but that doesn''t matter to them. Instead, they have made it their focus to ensure the Lady Confederates have been focused on their goals.
The first goal has been reached, so now it is time for Caledonia to re-focus on the next challenge.
"We all mesh well together and we worked better as a team (than last season)," Hicks said. "We have worked well on fundamentals, like calling the ball. We also have encouraged each other."
Dodson, who is in her third season with the team, said the Lady Confederates deserve everything they have accomplished, which includes three victories in three meetings against Aberdeen, because they have worked extremely hard. She said she didn''t doubt the Lady Confederates could get to where they are now.
"Our team is not worried about our own glory," Dodson said. "We''re all one team and kind of one body, and when someone does something worth praising, that''s what you do. We''re so in touch with each other that we''re really a close team. We were close last year, but it is a different vibe."
Hicks, who is in her fourth season, admitted she thought it would be difficult for the Lady Confederates to make up for the loss of six seniors. She is proud of what the squad has done and wants to do what she can to help it do even more.
"Last year we were close off the court, but this year we are close on the court and off the court," Hicks said.
Brooks attributes the Lady Confederates'' closeness to an even-keeled approach and love the sport that often times has the members of the team playing volleyball in their free time or when they''re not at practice.
Brooks said she knew Aberdeen still would present a challenge in the district, but she thought he team would be up for the job even though it lost six seniors.
"I feel like we have more heart and dedication this year," Brooks said.
Dodson''s consistency and Hicks'' improved hitting have been integral pieces to the mix. Brooks said Hicks'' steady demeanor epitomizes the Lady Confederates'' ability, for the most part, to shake off mistakes to regroup and to do their jobs.
When Brooks puts it all together, she is confident about her team''s chances Saturday.
"We have the ability to win. It is just bringing it," Brooks said. "We''re excited we''re No. 1 in our district, and I feel it is well deserved, and I feel this is just the next step and we''re prepared for it."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
1. MSU vs. Southern Mississippi: Five Things to Watch COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Oak HIll Academy looks to stop skid in series with Heritage Academy HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. Game of Week: Starkville, West Point renew HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. New Hope looks for continued improvement against Columbus HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. Copiah-Lincoln ends EMCC's winning streak at 25 COLLEGE SPORTS