Choosing a volleyball player of the year was tough, but that may be because the sport is growing quickly in Maine.

Coaches had a hard time choosing between Maggie Bradley of Greely and Brittany Bona of Scarborough.

In fact, ESPN had a hard time selecting between them for Gatorade player of the year, said Cape Elizabeth Coach Rob Thompson.

But in the end, Bradley is not only strong in so many areas, she’s strong when she needs to be. That mind-set led her team to the Class A state title.

“I would say in general they are pretty even. In my opinion Maggie slightly edges out Brittany a little bit,” said Thompson, who has coached both on travel teams. “I think on Greely, there are other strong players on the team and they still end up going to Maggie as the go-to player during crunch time.”

It is because of Bradley’s mental toughness that she is the Maine Sunday Telegram’s choice for volleyball player of the year.

“She hits hard, she plays the front and the back, she doesn’t stop moving and she has a great serve. She’s an all-around player,” said Biddeford Coach Ruth Shaw.

Bradley had 175 attack kills, 30 serving aces and 134 digs. She also came up with big plays at key moments in key games.

In the state final against Scarborough, Bradley may have been the difference. Coach Kelvin Hasch looked to her when the Rangers needed a boost in the fourth set.

“I told her we needed to get more out of her. I told the setters to set the ball to Maggie,” Hasch said. “She found a way to overcome if she wasn’t serving well. We were down 17-10 and she brought us back in the fourth set. It was 18-17 when she got done serving.”

Bradley was a strong player last year, but after winter ball and summer leagues, learned to focus like few others.

“The state game was very stressful. Right in the middle of the state game, playing that state game is what you’ve been working for the entire season — that’s in the back of your mind. It can be very stressful,” Bradley said. “I tried to keep myself calm. That helps my teammates stay calm and they helped me as well.

“In some ways winning in volleyball is a lot of skill and a lot of luck. You have to overcome so much mentally. We needed to separate ourselves from the fact that was the state game.”

Perhaps what puts Bradley on top of her game is she’s played on and watched past Greely teams that went 14-0 and 13-1, so the volleyball climate she has played in always demanded delivering at crunch time.

As a result, this year for the first time, Bradley didn’t get flustered — she just got it done.

“The one thing with Maggie, she’s overcome (getting frustrated). Her mentality is, if the team isn’t doing well, then I have to do better,” Hasch said. “She used to have the other attitude. In the state match, Maggie had some serving errors but when I told her not to do the jump serve, not to play too risky, she went to a little jump and it proved so affective.”

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

dfleming@pressherald.com

Twitter: Flemingpph