When the Barr-Reeve volleyball team defeated Loogootee on Saturday in the sectional championship, half of the arena exploded into cheers and applause. The other half fell silent. Barr-Reeve fans stormed the court, hugging players and throwing confetti made out of toilet paper. Loogootee fans headed towards the exits.
Despite the drama afterwards, the match itself started off in non-dramatic fashion with Barr-Reeve jumping to a 2-0 (25-17, 25-20) lead and threatened to sweep the Lions out of the championship game in their own arena.
“I don’t know what happened the first two games,” said Loogootee coach Doug Denson, who reminded his players of their visit to the state championship and how they fought back from a similar situation. “I said ‘you’re capable of coming back’ and they responded to that. I think more than anything it was a determination not to lose and get swept.”
That determination helped lead the Lions to victory in the third set. Beating the Vikings 25-18, making it 2-1 overall. The Loogootee crowd erupting with every point scored.
“We came out ready to play in the first two sets,” said Barr-Reeve coach Amber DeCoursey. “In set three our serve-receive went down, passing went down and you saw what happened. You can’t just give them those easy opportunities.”
Loogootee took the lead quickly in the fourth set forcing Barr-Reeve to play catch up for the majority of the match. Eventually, the Vikings were able to tie the match 19-19. Then the Lions went on a scoring run making the game 23-20 for the Lions.
“We had our backs against the wall,” said DeCoursey. “We just gave them way too many opportunities. A team of this caliber, you have to keep attacking. I told them not to quit.”
Finally, Barr-Reeve was able to make a break through, making it 24-23 in favor of the Vikings.
“You know that we can’t just let them have a three or four-point run, cause that’s usually what happens with them,” said Denson. “And we didn’t answer with our own. You know [Michala] Beasley hits one that misses by inches, if that goes in it’s 24-20. It’s a game of inches.”
The Vikings took the final set of the night 26-24. As the final point was scored Barr-Reeve players dropped to the floor in celebration, some crying. Coach DeCoursey took to the court with tears in her eyes.
“I love you guys so much,” said DeCoursey as she hugged a player.
Loogootee players fought back tears as they received hugs and well wishes from family members and supporters.
“The girls, they’re going to enjoy this evening,” said DeCoursey. “I just couldn’t be happier for them!”