When you get 735 kills in a single season, most of them blend together.
Maddie Bryant remembers certain ones, like the 1,000th of her career, which she got against Forsyth Central on Sept. 7. And if any others stick in her mind, it’s because of the plays that led to it.
“I think it’s because we had a perfect pass (or) perfect set, so I know I had to get a kill off it,” Bryant said. “I didn’t want to let my team down. I just remember the perfect sequences throughout it all.”
Bryant had one of the most productive seasons in county history, with her kill total leading the county ranks by hundreds. That led to a significant amount of attention and focus on Bryant, which the Georgia Southern signee wasn’t necessarily comfortable with.
“Sometimes I don’t like being the center of attention, but I just have to get used to it, because that’s the kind of sport volleyball is,” Bryant said. “You get a big kill, a lot of attention is on you.”
“That’s just my personality. I’m more excited when other people on my team do something than when I do something.”
As Bryant fulfilled her individual goals and became more of a star for the Raiders, she saw teams targeting her, testing her serve receive game and sometimes putting three blockers on her.
“I was like, ‘I didn’t think I was that good,’” Bryant said. “But I guess so.”
Bryant improved in multiple aspects of her game in 2017. She had more kills, a better hitting percentage and almost twice as many digs as she did in 2016. The team followed her lead and put up perhaps the best season in school history, going 5-0 through the regular season area schedule and reaching the state quarterfinals, where the Raiders lost to Newnan.
One of the team’s main goals was to win the area championship, and while North’s loss to Lambert in the title game still stings for Bryant, she’s satisfied with how the season went.
“A few practices in, I could tell that we were going to be better than we have been the past few years,” Bryant said. “I felt like it was going to be our best season, and I think it was.”
Bryant doesn’t know the exact role she’ll play at Georgia Southern, but there’s one thing she knows will happen, at least during her early years in Statesboro.
“I know I’m not going to be the star I was at North,” Bryant said.
And she might be okay with that.