Sunni Bennett started playing volleyball early in life by Georgia's standards.
Sunni Bennett was selected as Greenbrier's 2004 volleyball player of the year. She began playing two years before any of her Lady Wolfpack teammates. As a setter, she is more of an asset to the team than she gets credit for, according to her coach, Debbie Born. She has played on a junior Olympics team similar to the new Augusta Juniors team. Bennett has led her team to three consecutive regular season region titles. She is looking to play college volleyball for either Augusta State, Valdosta State or Barton.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Georgia doesn't have a middle school volleyball program, but Bennett began honing her skills as a seventh-grader in Texas.
When she began her freshman season at Greenbrier, Bennett already had at least two years' experience on her classmates.
"Oh, it helped a tremendous amount by playing earlier than other girls," Bennett said. "I started to grasp the game, and I think I sort of had a leg up on some girls."
It helped that she played in a junior Olympic program much like the emerging Augusta Juniors team.
"It just helped me become a smarter player," Bennett said. "It gave me an edge."
The experience and intelligence has made her a leader on a Greenbrier team that won three straight regular season region titles.
Greenbrier coach Debbie Born says Bennett, the 2004 Columbia County News-Times Volleyball Player of the Year, is one of the smartest players she has ever coached.
"She is such an intelligent player," Born says. "She uses her head and it makes her teammates better. Intelligence is a key component for a setter."
Bennett has been a leader on the floor for the Lady Wolfpack as the point guard of the Greenbrier team.
"Setters don't get much credit," Bennett said, agreeing with the point guard comparison. "We do a lot, but the credit usually goes to the person who gets the kill."
As a varsity player, Bennett's leadership has taken the Wolfpack into the playoffs three straight seasons in a sport largely dominated by private schools.
"It is like when we played schools" that weren't very good, she said. "They had a mental disadvantage and were scared of us. It is the same when we play a private school. They know where our weaknesses are and they hit it there."
Bennett says with the Juniors program, Columbia County can be competitive with private schools in time.
Until then county coaches can only hope to have a player that leads like Bennett.
"Coach Born has always told me to be a leader," Bennett said. "She wants the senior girls to lead more and set a good example."
Her leadership will allow Bennett to play volleyball in college, with Augusta State, Valdosta State and Barton as the leading candidates for her services.
"I just want to keep playing the sport I love," she said.
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