Freshman Bailey Cox prepares to serve the ball. On Friday, Aug. 27, 2021 at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens Georgia, the University of Georgia volleyball team defeated Morehead State in three straight sets. (Photo: Conor Dillon; dillon.conor11@gmail.com)

Growing up in New Castle, Indiana, freshman Bailey Cox was a multi-sport athlete, playing basketball and competing in gymnastics. However, after a series of setbacks in those, she found a love for a different sport.

After a femur injury during a routine postponed her gymnastics career, Cox started playing volleyball for the first time in her life. Since then, she hasn’t looked back.

“She’s been great and she is right where we thought she’d be,” head coach Tom Black said. “She’s going to do great things at Georgia.”

Committing to the ‘G’

Once she began learning volleyball, Cox couldn’t stop playing and went from knowing nothing about it to becoming a highly-rated recruit out of high school with three state titles along with an ongoing list of individual accolades.

Black said Cox stood out from other players Georgia was recruiting because of her skill level and intensity. Her easygoing and happy attitude despite being pushed to her limits in workouts and camps impressed Black and his staff as well.

“Her intensity, her love of the game and just her skill level. People were hammering balls at her,” Black said. “Some kids would be scared, but she was laughing and you could tell she didn’t want to leave the court. There was nothing that didn’t impress me.”

Cox was a highly rated prospect out of high school, and she had options of where to go to college. When Black recruited her, she immediately clicked with the Bulldogs and the team culture, a huge part in what won her over.

Moving more than 500 miles to play for a new volleyball team can be a difficult task for anyone. Cox, on the other hand, seemed to be excited for the change and was ready for the challenge. Cox said that she never really saw herself being “a Southern girl” but as soon as she got to Athens for the first time and met the team, she knew it was the place for her.

“Whenever [Black] recruited me, I really knew nothing about Georgia,” Cox said. “I always picture myself being a big city girl in somewhere like California, but as soon as I walked on this campus, I fell in love with the team, coaches and the atmosphere. It was absolutely amazing.”

Strong start to first year

Now that the season has been underway for almost a month now, Cox and her coaches have been able to look at her performance and the contributions that she has made just as a freshman in an experienced and deep Georgia roster.

She is in the top five Bulldogs in total digs with 59 alongside experienced veterans including junior Kacie Evans and redshirt senior Claire Rothenberger. Cox brings an energetic presence to every match and practice whether she is on the court or not. She can’t explain where her energy on the court comes from, but she always finds it when needed.

“I just get so excited at the fact that I get to play the sport that I love for another four years,” Cox said. “Seeing Phoebe [Awoleye] get a block or Amber [Stivrins] getting a kill makes me want to go crazy. It’s a good feeling to see my teammates do good and all of us together do good.”

Georgia currently sits at 4-9 on the season with plenty of games left after just beginning SEC play. While 4-9 is not where the Bulldogs want to be, there have been plenty of bright spots this season, Cox being one of them. She may only be a freshman but she has already made an impact on this up-and-coming team and will play a big role for this team over the next four years of her college career.

“I’m still learning and I’m so excited to keep learning,” Cox said. “I try to keep the most positive outlook on things because I’m not gonna make every play, I’m not the perfect player and I’m going to make mistakes and embracing the learning stages right now is getting me through this.”