They were both team MVPs. Each two of the best players in the area. But Crawfordsville’s Macy Bruton and Southmont’s Sidney Veatch entered the 2020 volleyball season at different points in their careers and with different jobs to do.
And each rose to the challenge.
Bruton, just a sophomore, was asked to lead the offense of a talented Crawordsville team. She did that with 589 kills, fifth most in the state. Veatch, an IUPUI volleyball signee, was asked to not only be the vocal leader for a Southmont team coming off a sectional championship season, but to change positions for her senior season. She did that by continuing to lead her team with 277 assists, but added 190 kills (second most on the team), and added 137 digs.
Bruton and Veatch are the Journal Review 2020 Volleyball Co-Players of the Year.
The Athenians featured a lineup full of talent, and improved its win total by 10 from 2019 — posting a 24-5 record in Bruton’s sophomore campaign.
“It definitely caught me by surprise,” Bruton, who was first-team all conference and named to the Class 3A Northwest District team, said of the success. “but I’m glad it happened.”
The success was large in part because Bruton stepped up her game. Averaging 6.6 kills per set, second most in the state. Up from 4.2 as freshman, when Bruton had 365 kills.
“Macy was definitely our go to on the court especially when we were out of system. She was a huge part of our success the entire season and our team knew they could rely on her to come through with big plays when needed,” Crawfordsville coach Kelly Johnson said.
The jump from freshman to sophomore year was expected, but Bruton took it upon herself to step up.
“By myself I knew I had a heavy load,” she said. “As a freshman I had a good season and sophomore year I knew I had to have an even better season. So I just helped my team do the best I could. I know that a lot of people they expect me to be the one to score so I try my best to do it, and with the help of Laine it really helps for the outcome.”
Laine Schlicher led the Sagamore Conference with 565 assists, while Shea Williamson added 220 as Crawfordsville’s offense was one of the best in the state helping the Athenians to a 15-0 start.
The team that stopped the win streak?
Veatch and the Mounties.
“Before the game I told them (teammates), that this was the game I wanted to win, because they were obviously having a very good season and I was just so stoked for that game. I just wanted to be the team that broke the record.”
The Mounties topped the Athenians 3-1, and Veatch had 14 kills, 11 digs, and five blocks. It was what Veatch had to do. Stepping up in the absence of Lexi Nelson, who handed Veatch the reigns — both as vocal leader and the star player.
“It was definitely a change because I had always relied on Lexi to be that person,” Veatch, who was first-team all conference and named to the Class 2A all-state second team, said. “but I think through the season that was my main goal was to become a leader, become a captain, talk on the court, and help everyone around me.”
Even if it meant changing positions from the teams’ top setter to a compliment hitter beside senior teammate Kaley Remley, who in her own right, is headed toward a path in college volleyball at Earlham.
“At first I was a little hesitant because I hadn’t really played that position before,” Veatch said. “but I knew I needed to step up and come to the challenge. And it really helped me overall as a player, because I got to see a different perspective of the game. It really opened my eyes as a setter.”
Southmont coach Lauran Nichols not only knew Veatch’s position change would help the team succeed, but knew Veatch would welcome the request with open arms.
“After losing Lexi last year, us coaches would look at each other during the summer and early on during the season and just say, we have got to have Sid hit this year,” Nichols said. “Since we didn’t have any scrimmages over the summer, we never got to try out a new look with her hitting. Early on during the season when we were struggling to decide the best line up to use.
“I will never forget Sidney saying in a huddle. ‘I will do whatever and play wherever will make us the most successful team.’ And that did and will always speak volumes to me about the kind of player and person she is. She went completely out of her comfort zone to do what her team needed, even if it was a struggle some days. I think having that experience will only benefit her as she moves on to play at the college level.”
As Veatch heads to IUPUI, the same place her coach shined for the Jaguars, the impact she left on the Mounties’ program will be felt for years to come.
“Sid is one of those players you will miss years after she is gone. She is such a great example of how far hard work and dedication can take you,” Nichols said. “She came in as a freshman with so much raw talent and she put in the time, effort, hours, tears, work and that transformed her into the player she is today. As a coach and someone who is also passionate about volleyball, you can’t ask for more. And it’s something you don’t find often. I know so many girls in our program and younger girls at the middle school level look up to Sid. She has been a huge part in transforming Southmont Volleyball into a competitive, respected program.”
And Bruton? Well she’s just getting started and as she is destined for greatness, including a likely eclipse of the 1,000 kill mark early in her junior season, her coach knows the sky is the limit for both her and the Athenians.
“Macy is the most natural pure volleyball player I have ever had the opportunity to coach,” Johnson said. “She is equally talented on both sides of the ball for us and is a great team player.”