This was how our end felt, abrupt and unjust. For the past month, we have worked so hard in the gym and in the weight room preparing for what we knew would be a fight to the very last point. When the season got rough and we were dealt losses that were one kill away from victory we kept going. No one gave up or got discouraged but kept encouraging and working hard.
This work was evident in Friday’s match against Stetson. Everyone was on fire, especially the seniors, and we easily took the win that we had to have. With the news that North Florida had fallen in five to Florida Gulf Coast, we knew that we held our future in our own hands. You win, you’re in. It was do or die and we were ready to face our fate.
On Saturday night, the eagerness and competitiveness was palpable in the JU locker room. After a solid warm up, we took the court ready to write our own future and redefine our past. However, FGCU was ready too. After losing the first two sets, fear and doubt was etched on the faces of our team at half time.
All the returners were thinking of our end to last year’s season - a loss in three to UNF in the same position we were currently in. Could this really happen all over again, another season ended so cruelly? Ashley (August), our senior libero, answered this for us in a speech that picked everyone up, brought us together and turned everything around. No, we weren’t going to roll over. No we weren’t going to turn our backs on each other. And no, this was not going to be our last game together. We took the court and lit it up, our seniors leading the way, we fought our way back into the match, all the way to a 0-0 start in game five.
This was it, the momentum was in our favor, all we had to do was get to 15 first. We started out great leading 3-0 until the ref made a call that put the ball in FGCU’s hands. They had not been beaten and fought back pulling ahead of us 13-10. We never gave up, never stopped swinging and went down with a fight. And although we lost, fear wasn’t the cause and that is something to remember and be proud of.
This has been a roller-coaster of a season with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows but our team never gave up. I know the loss was especially tough on our three seniors but guys, y’all played your hearts out and lead us back into the match that would have been swept without you. Ashley was making great ups and leading team by the example that she would not give up and would not be defeated. Kay Kay (Kathryn Kane) and Allyia (Drzewiecki) could not be stopped and both lead the team with 15 kills each. They were fearless and confident the epitome of senior outsides. This class will be missed both on and off the court where each of them have made a difference for everyone on our team. We learned a lot this year and although the results weren’t what we wanted we fought to the end and as a captain that’s all I could ever ask for or want to be surrounded by fighters.
“Even when you've played the game of your life, it's the feeling of teamwork that you'll remember. You'll forget the plays, the shots, and the scores, but you'll never forget your teammates.”- Deborah Miller Palmore-Basketball Olympian -Kendall