Yokota's Bailey has picture-perfect ending
By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 2, 2017
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – No sooner had the last spike of Britney Bailey’s high school career come thundering down to the floor, than a cascade of emotions washed over her.
Happy that her Yokota team had repeated as Far East Division II Tournament champions. But sad, she said, that her four years on the volleyball court were finished.
“Conflicted,” the Panthers senior middle blocker said on Tuesday, three days after Yokota capped a 29-8 season by beating Christian Academy Japan in the final.
“I felt good, that we had accomplished our goals, but I was like, ‘I’m so empty. I don’t want it to end. My last point. I’m done playing in high school.’ First word I thought of, ‘depressed.’”
“It was a surreal moment,” said first-year Yokota coach Byron Wrenn, also realizing that his premier spiker would no longer don No. 23 in Panther blue and gold.
Bailey averaged 10.3 kills and 2.6 blocks over the course of a 37-match season in which Yokota won 81 of 117 sets. In the D-II title match, Bailey had 23 kills and eight block points.
For that, plus earning D-II Most Valuable Player honors, Bailey has been named Stars and Stripes’ Pacific high school volleyball Athlete of the Year.
More than the numbers, it was the feeling of confidence Bailey gave others on the court, knowing their “go-to” player was on the floor who could finish plays with authority.
“I love it,” said sophomore setter Kyra Anderson, who averaged 18.6 assists during the season. The two, Anderson said, shared a synergy; as she would set the ball, she’d gaze at Bailey, then hear her yell, “Yes! Yes! And you know she’s doing to do it.”
“I like that role,” Bailey said. “It makes me play better and it pushes me to be that person.”
Yet Bailey deflects much of the credit to her teammates and coach. “I couldn’t finish without the set,” Bailey said. “The other five players, they’re very important, extra eyes, communicating, even if you don’t get to touch the ball.”
The season low point was a slump during last month’s American School In Japan YUJO III tournament, in which the Panthers lost a season-high nine straight sets.
From there, the Panthers dropped one set - the second - in the final against CAJ. And the fourth set stayed nip-and-tuck and provided what Wrenn called a “telling moment” in Bailey’s career.
Though Bailey has always been a quiet leader, at that juncture, “you could see, she was thinking, it’s not going to work if I’m quiet,” Wrenn said. “She put the team on her back, her words backing her play and her play backing her words, and she brought it home.”
Once play ended and awards were handed out, Wrenn, Anderson and Bailey recalled walking back to their quarters, rain and wind from oncoming Typhoon Saola drenching them, but they said they hardly felt it.
“Reflecting on the goals we’d set in August,” Wrenn said. “Beating ASIJ for the first time in 14 years, winning (Pac-East), repeating Far East, and individual goals that fell in line with the team goals. It was raining, but it wasn’t raining.”
“It was like a movie ending,” Bailey said.
2017 All-Pacific girls volleyball team
Britney Bailey, Sr., MB, Yokota (MVP of Far East Division II and DODEA-Pacific East tournaments).
Mimi Larry, Jr., setter, Kubasaki (Best Setter of Far East Division I Tournament for second straight year).
Amanda Wood, Sr., MB, Seisen (MVP of Far East Division I Tournament).
Reiko Tsuji, Sr., libero, Christian Academy Japan.
Carlie Quinata, Jr., OH, Notre Dame, Guam (MVP of Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam league, first-team All-Island.
Annabelle Davy, Sr., MB, Seoul Foreign (MVP of Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Blue Division Tournament).