After losing in the Sweet Sixteen last season, the Varsity Girls Volleyball team believed that they had missed an opportunity. With both a talented and an experienced roster returning this year, expectations were high for the program throughout the season. Varsity Head Coach Rachel Vanderpol conveyed this message to her team from the very first match.
"Whether at practice, at a game, or off the court, we wanted to accomplish each of our goals together as a team. Moving into post season we embraced the motto “finish it” because to us, we knew we had what it took to win it all, but we had not accomplished that in the past."
After going 34-8 throughout both the regular season and the post-season, it seemed as if Coach Vanderpol's message had been received. However, one match in the state championship against Sandy Creek High School stood in the way of the Spartans' mission.
The state title match on November 6th was held at Lakepoint Sports Complex. This matchup would be the third time that GAC and Sandy Creek had played this season, with the Spartans winning the first two matches. Early on, it appeared as if Sandy Creek would gain their revenge as they won the first set 27-25.
Despite being down a set in front of a raucous atmosphere, the Spartans maintained their composure. They were victorious in three sets in a row, winning 25-23, 25-23, 25-14. As soon as junior Naya Ohuabunwa hit the final kill for the Spartans, the whole team dropped in relief. The Spartans "Finished" the season and brought home the championship trophy.
Sophomore Gracie Rose was a catalyst in the match and finished with 17 kills and 16 digs. Naya Ohuabunwa added 16 kills, and sophomore Maddie Burrough dished out 40 assists. Lily Owenby also had six aces and 10 digs on defensively. Janie Stinchcomb and Kennedy Seymour provided great production on the front line as well. Seniors Jaina Dybdahl and Autumn Clark finished their careers in style with a state title. After the confetti came down, and the initial emotions subsided, Coach Vanderpol took time to describe what this championship meant to her program.
"I am just so proud of our girls and their ability to work so hard this season as a team, despite many obstacles last year, to bring home the first ever GAC volleyball State Championship. I am so thankful for our alumni that paved the way to make this possible and all the encouragement they have given along the way. I am thankful to our staff for getting these girls motivated, focused, and ready to go, and I am thankful for GAC and the support they have shown our program and team this year!"