Todd A. Robiner Park in Royal Palm Beach has four sand volleyball courts. On Sundays, some are reserved for adult league volleyball games; others are set aside for children’s games. It didn’t take long for the twin duo of Bayley and Brianne Cook to graduate from the children’s courts to the adult ones.
At age 8, the sisters were talented enough to play with the older competitors. By watching their parents Scott and Tamara and older sisters Amanda and Cassidy play, they quickly became players themselves. As rising seniors at Royal Palm Beach High School, the spotlight is now on them.
“When I was younger, I always wanted to play volleyball because my older sisters played,” Bayley said last week after a RPBHS practice. “But you can only start at a certain age… I was playing all the other sports, just biding my time waiting to play volleyball. I was destined to play.”
With the family’s volleyball lineage, Bayley and Brianne were advanced beyond their years. As young girls, they attended a volleyball camp where their older sisters were counselors. The campers, of course, were grouped by age and experience level: one court for the older players, one court for the beginners.
“We started getting put on the older court when we were like 8,” Brianne said. “We were playing with kids who were in high school and middle school. It was the realization that I can actually play this. I think I’m good at it, and I have fun doing it, why not continue?”
Continue they have. Bayley, a setter who plays all positions, and Brianne, a setter and right-side hitter, have been part of two district championships at RPBHS with their mother serving as an assistant coach. As a junior last year, Bayley had 365 assists, 133 kills, 174 digs, 79 service aces and 282 service points. Brianne had 323 kills, 315 assists, 183 digs, 20 blocks and 168 service points.
And as longtime teammates, let alone twin sisters, their on-court chemistry is unparalleled. Both sisters say they have an unknown, non-spoken language. They can tell what each other wants to do and how they feel with just a look.
“We can look at each other on the court if something happens and know exactly what the other one’s thinking,” Bayley said. “Which is kind of cliché because we’re twins, that we can read each other’s minds, but we kind of can.”
“I don’t think that it’s just a twin thing,” Brianne said. “You can be like that with your friend. But when you spend so much time with somebody, you eventually get to the point where you don’t really need to talk about certain things. You just sort of know.”
It is something they’ve taken advantage of during their careers. Many of their assists have come on kills by the other sister.
Last season, the Wildcats had their best season since the girls arrived, even with Bayley playing most of the year with a torn medial collateral ligament (MCL). The two led the team to memorable wins at Park Vista and against Santaluces in the district finals. The Wildcats eventually lost in the regional finals to St. Thomas Aquinas.
For opponents and referees, it seems like the sisters are everywhere on the court at once. When opponents try to figure out the difference (aside from shirt number) to make defensive calls, they often mistake the two. Multiple times they’ve been called for back-row attacks when, in fact, it was Bayley or Brianne hitting from the front row.
But they embrace being twins, which runs in the family. Brianne, who is 10 minutes older, is more of the tomboy, and Bayley is more of the girly girl, their mother said. As children, they consciously tried not to wear the same clothes. But because of school uniforms, it happened on occasion. Yet the girls didn’t mind. Sometimes they did it because they thought it was funny.
As for switching places, because they’re not identical and people know who they are, they can’t. They can’t take tests for each other because they have completely different schedules.
“At first glance, if I’m not paying attention, I certainly can call them the wrong name,” Tamara said. “I’ll even throw the dog’s name in there sometimes. With four kids and two dogs, extra Bs, sometimes you get frustrated. I’ve also called Amanda and Cassidy each other’s names. That’s just a parent thing.”
As their last season together approaches, Brianne and Bayley reflect on their careers together. The early games at the park come to mind.
“We were overhand serving when we were 7 because we’d been out there for so long trying to serve like all the adults,” Brianne said.
“Being the leaders on the court is kind of what we were born to do,” Bayley said.
For their mother, nothing is better than watching her daughters together. “It has been awesome,” Tamara said. “It’s cool because, in my situation, they’re not split up. To see how they work together on the court, too, and to share the experience… not everybody gets to do that.”
ABOVE: Brianne and Bayley Cook hold the 2012 District Championship trophy after a RPBHS win last season.