Morristown senior Bradley Taylor has a love-hate relationship with setting. When the Colonials are on — and they were for most of this season — Taylor just loves to be in the heart of the action on the court. When things turn sour, either for Taylor or her many hitters, she blames herself.
That focus and dedication helped Taylor become the 2012 All Daily Record Volleyball Player of the Year.
Taylor surpassed her older sister, Alex Taylor, as Morristown’s all-time assist leader. She had an astounding 784 assists this fall, giving her 1,356 for her two years guiding the Colonials’ offense. Along the way, Morristown shattered its previous record with 31 victories and just four losses — all to Group III and Morris County Tournament champion West Morris.
“I have the greatest hitters in the world,” said Taylor, who grew up playing beach volleyball at the shore with her family. “They make me look good. We work so well together.”
Taylor followed her big sister onto the Morristown varsity as a freshman, but had to play libero. Alex Taylor was the Colonials’ established setter, and Bradley just wanted to get playing time. In truth, she was a little intimidated at first, because the seniors “were all so tall, and they could all hit. They could do everything.” But summer workouts and preseason helped Morristown bond, and by the time both Taylor sisters took the court together, all the rough edges had been worked away.
Bradley Taylor spent two years as the Colonials’ libero. At the end of her sophomore season, head coach Ron Davenport asked her to consider a switch to setter. At the time, Taylor “was the best thing we had, as far as hands, and her competitiveness would get to everything.”
But things did not go smoothly the following fall. It was a particularly difficult transition, and Taylor’s love-hate relationship swung toward the negative pole.
“She was awful the first two weeks,” Davenport recalled. “But then she got better. She has such determination and fire in her, she couldn’t imagine not being good at something. Within another two weeks, the light went on.”
Unlike diving on the court to dig up the ball, now Taylor had to pass it precisely how the Morristown hitters preferred. And at the time, the team philosophy was not kind toward setters. All errors seemed to be the setter’s fault, or at least that’s how the competitive Taylor felt at the time.
“I didn’t like it because I wasn’t good at it,” said Taylor, who was also the libero and an occasional setter for Morris-Essex United last winter. “When I started to get the gist of how to do it, it started to be more fun.”
Davenport continued to add more complex plays, counting on Taylor to get the ball into the right position — and for the Colonials’ hitters, like seniors Mary Long, Rachel Selmore and Jen Remler, to be able to get the kills. Morristown was able to run a quicker, less predictable offense.
Taylor now hopes to continue to play volleyball in college, while she studies finance or economics.
“Not only was she involved, she went all out all the time,” Remler said. “It was so awesome. She’s always keeping her energy up, and with every play she sets an example of how we should be playing. … When we’re down, she’s the one to pick us back up. She’s always been that person. Once we see her shaking things off, it’s easier for us to get back in our groove.”