Greenwood senior Bell narrows focus to volleyball

Brooklyn Bell used to think rebounds, putbacks and screening for teammates was her clearest path to becoming a college athlete.

In time, her priorities changed.

Volleyball eventually catapulted itself over basketball, and Bell, a 6-foot-1 middle blocker for Greenwood, hasn’t once been persuaded to look back with a sense of nostalgia.

“It was actually the other way around,” said Bell, a senior. “I played AAU basketball until about two years ago, and then I finally started playing club volleyball. I was getting injured a lot in basketball with concussions and stuff, so I decided it would be better for my health to focus on volleyball.

“I feel like volleyball has more big moments than basketball does. It’s more entertaining to play. You feel like you’re in every play.”

The results speak for themselves.

Bell, who averaged seven points and five rebounds in her final hoops season (2021-22), leads the Woodmen volleyball squad this fall with 153 kills. She was second on the team in the same category a year ago with 166, and now stands at 507 for her career.

Bell’s mother Cheryl played the sport in middle school and during her freshman year at Seymour. She coached her daughter at Greenwood Middle School, which is around the time Brooklyn began taking a liking to volleyball.

After residing in the shadow of current University of Connecticut freshman Mya Ayro, Greenwood’s career leader in kills with 1,064 from 2019-22, Bell is enjoying being more of a focal point when coaches from opposing teams scout the Woodmen.

Her duties, however, extend beyond spikes, blocks and deflections.

“Anytime that any player is a senior, you’re always expecting more leadership out of them,” Greenwood coach Zach Mackie said. “You have them make the decisions to lead the team, and kind of guide the direction of the team of where (players) want it to go.

“It’s one of those things where we have so many leaders on the team. Brooklyn has put in the work, and I think now she’s come out of that shadow and realizes it’s time for her to step up.”

The Woodmen are a somewhat deceiving 7-12 in that they’ve been competitive against quality competition, but often struggle to close out sets. This past weekend, they took Mid-State Conference leader Franklin to three sets in the championship pool of the Grizzly Cubs’ invitational before falling short.

Earlier this summer, Bell committed to play volleyball at Indiana Tech, a NAIA school in Fort Wayne. Bell, who carries a 4.2 grade-point average, plans to major in criminal psychology.

The Warriors are in pursuit of a sixth consecutive winning season. The 2022 squad finished 28-8, venturing all the way to the NAIA national tournament in Fremont, Nebraska.

Prior to the season, Woodmen seniors Amy Luttrell, Katie Newett and Abigail Willham were named team tri-captains.

Bell, a four-year starter, was completely fine with it.

“You don’t have to be the captain to help impact the team,” Bell said. “I’ve just kind of been kind of waiting for my time, but I’m also getting better at the game.”