MAROA — While it's the hitters who grab the headlines, it's the setters who lead the team.
They are the quarterbacks.
Carly Mason, senior setter for Maroa-Forsyth, is the type of player every volleyball coach wants as their setter — unselfish, exuberant and a steady, guiding hand that can calm a team during a rough patch.
Mason was a truly balanced player and the statistics don't lie. She recorded 733 assists, 247 digs and 123 kills this season, and also added 56 aces and 35 blocks, earning her the Herald & Review County Volleyball Player of the Year.
"Carly's style is very calm and not very showy," Maroa-Forsyth coach and Carly's mother Sarah Mason said. "She gets really excited and she’s got a big smile, but she can be that calm presence when things are not necessarily going well.
"As a setter, she doesn’t really get excited for herself. Nobody really pays attention that much to the setter even though they are the ones that kind of run everything."
Carly said she's well-aware of the setter' importance to the team.
"Setters are the quarterback of the team and so I looked at my position as I need to put the hitters in the best position possible," Carly said. "I need to make my passers look good. Setters need to lead the court with the energy so I tried to be the cool, calm, collected person to bring everybody back together whenever it was getting kind of crazy."
While the Trojans didn't reach the state tournament this year, their success included beating rival Mount Zion twice and topping eventual Class 2A champion Champaign St. Thomas More.
"We had high hopes of getting the state championship but the team we had this year was so fun. We all love each other so much," Carly said. "We are friends first off the court. I wouldn’t trade this season for anything even though it didn’t go as we wanted to."
Mason will head to Belmont University in Nashville next fall to play volleyball for the Bruins.
Her older sister Bailey, who won the 2014 Herald & Review County Player of the Year award, plays at Middle Tennessee State University.
Sarah, who had tremendous success at Maroa in her three seasons with a 90-21 record, resigned as coach Dec. 11 and the entire Mason clan will be moving to Tennessee over the summer.
"Unfortunately it came down to I would regret missing Carly and my middle daughter, who is going to be a senior, and I would miss out on them playing," Sarah said. "I didn’t want to be pulled in two directions. Family always comes first so I it was something I had to do even though I do it regretfully.
Although the parent/student coaching dynamic can be tricky, Carly is glad she got the opportunity to be coached by her mother.
"She has taught me everything I know about volleyball," Carly said. "She was the first to put a volleyball in my hands so I’ve always sort of thought of her as a coach or mentor when it comes to volleyball. I’m very grateful that she has been able to coach these past three years."