MOORHEAD — Moorhead senior middle hitter Brook Carney is nicknamed "The Voice." It's not for her singing.
"When she doesn't say anything you definitely notice it," Moorhead volleyball coach Char Lien said. "She's just the one always talking. She gets people to communicate. Even for rotations in the back row, she's talking on the bench. It could be strategy, uplifting, cheering, anything the team needs."
Carney got into volleyball in fourth grade. She wanted to be like her older sister, Brianna, who is currently playing volleyball at Concordia.
"She was a role model for me," Brook said. "I saw her excelling in volleyball, so I thought I could do the same."
If there's anyone who knows the Carneys, it's Lien. She coached both Brianna and Brook and their mother, Jenny. Brianna led in a quiet way. Brook had a different approach.
"Brianna probably wasn't as competitive as Brook to start off," Lien said. "That is just a competitive family. Those two girls have grown up with everything Spudville. Brianna was too nice at first and didn't have that firepower and Brook watched that. Brook was the feisty one. Confidence was never lacking in Brook."
The confidence was even there as she eyed the end of her high school career in Saturday's Minnesota Class 3A, Section 8 championship. Brianna was in the crowd in Alexandria, Minn., as Moorhead was down 2-0 to top-seeded Willmar. The Spuds stormed back to win the section title 22-25, 22-25, 25-9, 25-21, 15-13.
The Spuds will take on No. 2 seed Champlin Park on Thursday at 11 a.m. in the Class 3A quarterfinals.
After the team had gone down 2-0 in the section championship, Brook told the Spuds to leave it all out on the court and to trust each other. The Spuds answered, now Brook heads to her fourth straight state volleyball tournament with the Spuds.
"I didn't want my season to end like that," Brook said. "I had a lot of trust in my teammates and I knew we could pull it off."
The Spuds began this season 0-4, as Brook was the only one on the roster not switching positions from previous years. The Spuds lost three of four at the Apple Valley (Minn.) Eagle Invite, pushing their record to 6-7. That was the turning point, as the intensity of practices changed.
"In the beginning, it was different," Brook said. "We were all in different positions. We switched a few things around and practiced and practiced and practiced."
Moorhead went 15-2 after the tournament at Apple Valley. Carney leads the team with 295 kills and 91 blocks this season, along with 32 aces and 128 digs.
"That season Brook was a freshman and Brianna was a senior and both played on a varsity was great for Brook," Lien said. "Brianna was a great role model. She told herself that she wasn't going to play to her age. She wasn't going to play the next season like a sophomore. She decided to play the way she could play and every year she just repeated that process.
"She's not scared of anybody, and she will not back down from anybody."
Brianna will be in the crowd at the state tournament to watch Brook this week.
"It's sad that this is it, but I'm glad we get to finish it out at the state tournament," Brook said. "I'd like people to remember me as a leader and a hard worker on the court and off the court and someone who brought positivity."
Ada-Borup, New York Mills, Park Rapids ready for state
Moorhead was not the only team to come back from a 2-0 deficit in the section championship to get to state. Ada-Borup had won 17 in a row heading into the Class 1A, Section 8 championship where Sacred Heart went up 2-0 on the Cougars. They answered with three straight wins to take a 30-1 record into the state tournament.
The Cougars trailed 4-0, 20-13 and 24-22 in the third set. They were one point from elimination.
"'Every point I compete' has been our motto the whole season, so that we focus on that next point every night," Ada-Borup coach Jim Lee said. "They are the cardiac kids."
Ada-Borup earned the No. 4 seed and will take on No. 5 seed Carlton at 1 p.m. Thursday in the Class 1A quarterfinals.
Park Rapids has a name for itself as well.
"We are kind of the David in David versus Goliath," Panthers coach Stephanie Hanson said.
Park Rapids will make it's first trip to the state tournament, opening the Class 2A quarterfinals against No. 3 seed Marshall at 7 p.m. Thursday.
"This team has been playing volleyball together for the last seven years," Hanson said. "They have been working toward this goal."
New York Mills knows about waiting for a trip to the state tournament. The Eagles are making their first trip since 1981, opening the Class 1A tournament against top-seeded Minneota at 1 p.m. in the quarterfinals.