The ultimate weaponPublished 5:58pm Thursday, January 3, 2013
WILLIAMSTON — Early in the year Riverside volleyball coach Herbie Rogers scheduled 4-A power J.H. Rose to serve as a measuring stick-type game for his 1-A Knights. Riverside lost the contest in a close 3-1 battle, but senior outside hitter Madison Brandon unleashed a career-high 19 kills on the Rampants during the loss.
The effort typified Brandon’s volleyball season as she routinely came up big against the best competition and guided the Knights to a 24-2 record, a Four Rivers Conference championship and a trip to the fourth round of the NCHSAA 1-A playoffs.
Though she’s listed at five-feet, eight-inches tall, Brandon’s kangaroo-type hops allow her stand tall at the net with the best of them as the Riverside senior smashed a school single-season record 226 kills en route to being named the 2012 Washington Daily News Volleyball Player of the Year.
After three years of playing varsity volleyball Brandon has become an excellent all-around player, but it’s her ability to spike the ball with extreme force that set her apart from the others and elevated the Knights into one of the top teams in the state.
“The one thing that really makes her special for us is her ability to hit the ball,” Rogers said. “If you’re going to have a good volleyball team you’re going to have to have somebody that can hit the ball and Madison was the person that we could go to, to score.”
The honor keeps the streak of Herbie Rogers-coached WDN Player of the Year winners alive and it is one that at the very least dates back to 2007 when Rogers coached at Williamston before it merged with Jamesville to form Riverside.
Presley Roberson won the honor in 2007 and was followed by Katie Paschal, who won it in 2008 before sharing the award with teammate Heather Jackson. In 2010 Meredith Roberston took the honor before Peri Ange did the same last season.
Brandon said she was thrilled to keep the tradition alive.
“It’s awesome,” Brandon said. “I definitely looked up to Katie because I played the position that she played and she could do it all and make it look easy.”
That’s probably what some of the younger Knights players thought while watching Brandon glide through the air and reign down thunderous kills on opposing defenses without breaking a sweat. But the truth is the three-year varsity starter has worked extremely hard on her game and took on added responsibilities going into her final season.
“Madison is a player that has really come on strong,” Rogers said. “This year we asked her to really take on a lot more burdens and to do different things for us. In the past she just played the outside but this year she played the frontline and the backline and her defense has really improved. Her serving was really good. This past year she only missed 15 serves in 26 games. That’s pretty good.”