DECATUR — After a third-place finish at state in his first year as St. Teresa's volleyball coach, Brad Dalton had his team take the next big step and capture the Class 2A state championship, making him the H&R Macon County Coach of the Year for the second straight season.
Question: Although the team was pretty healthy at state, during the season were injuries an issue?
Dalton: "We had to massage the roster all season long. We had players who had surgery and sprained ankles. So we had players we were trying to work back into shape and have players recovering from injuries while still playing some. It was a balancing act."
Q: Is there a particular statistic that you are most proud of this season?
Dalton: "Hitting at .300 for the team is pretty amazing. I have good players and I have good setters, but how they have taken to the system is outstanding and we have just gotten so fast at it. When you get faster than the other team can play defense then you are one-on-one and all of our hitters can beat a one-on-one block.
"I was there to guide them and last year we got pretty good at our system but we didn't master it. If you look at our hitting percentages for this year, we mastered it. It's getting wide open swings all across the nets. We play at a fast pace and it makes it hard to defend. It is overwhelming."
Q: When did you know this team was something special?
Dalton: "I put a plan in before we went to the Quincy Notre Dame tournament. I was thinking about what we would do it we played Quincy again in the playoffs and we run some special plays out of serve receive and I told them not to run them and we would just have to out hustle them because all weekend Quincy would had video on us."
"If we won regionals and (Quincy) won we would play them at sectionals. So we beat Quincy at the tournament and then we played Breese Mater Dei and I made them do the same thing and not use the plays. (Breese) was ranked No. 2 in the state at the time and we popped them pretty good. When we played Quincy Notre Dame (in the playoffs), they walked in thinking they had seen all our film and I just turned the kids loose (winning 25-8, 25-23)."
Q: How has a state championship helped your program?
Dalton: "After our state run last year we had 15 freshmen to start the season and at a middle school event we had 30 kids interested. I'm not sure what the numbers are at the feeder schools to see where we are but we have a lot of kids interested. If you are a volleyball player and you want to join a good program you should think about coming here."
PHOTOS: State champs St. Teresa volleyball honored by friends and family
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Contact Matthew Flaten at (217) 421-6968. Follow him on Twitter: @MattFlaten
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