The team walked onto the court in a single file line. “Sicko Mode” by Travis Scott roared in the background, along with the cheers of the 33 students who had made the four-and-a-half hour bus ride to watch the girls volleyball team play in the state championship.
In a three-game sweep, Hagerty beat Palm Beach Gardens, winning the state championship for the first time in school history.
The team had spent the past week studying the opponent in order to prepare for the Nov. 16 match.
“[Palm Beach Gardens] hit cross-court a lot,” Conley said. “We focused on blocking cross court.”
Even the team’s schedule, the toughest they had ever played, was set up to improve the chances at a title.
“When I made the schedule last year, my husband asked me if I was crazy,” head coach Juanita Hitt said. “I knew they could do a great job with it, and I think it really helped us prepare.”
And it paid off. The team shut down Palm Beach Gardens, winning by a margin of at least five points in each of the three games.
Hagerty did not ever lose the lead in the first game. Coasting off of the momentum of an early lead, Palm Beach Gardens could only fight back form a 23-15 gap to lose 25-20.
But it was not all smooth sailing. In the second set, the team had to come back from Palm Beach Gardens’ six-point deficit, tying the game 12-12. Outside hitter Alina Carrillo was key to the 8-1 run that followed, serving four points and completing two kills.
The third game played out in almost the same pattern, but this time, the energy from the student section helped pull the girls back in for a 25-20 win.
“They always bring the energy,” middle blocker Audrey Douglas said. “It [was] really nice to see all of our friends from school. It felt like [a home game].”
The team’s five Division-I-committed seniors helped lead the team to their state title.
“It’s definitely going to be hard [next year] because these girls are my best friends,” Carrillo, a junior, said. “I can’t wait to see them go to college and be more awesome.”
Senior setter Emily Lawrence, a UCF commit, totaled 37 assists in the match, breaking the 1000-mark for the season.
“I had so many options, so many great hitters,” Lawrence said. “In any situation I can go to anyone, no matter the pass.”
Four hitters had nine kills or more for the match, proving Lawrence’s point in full.
With their last season of high school volleyball ending in such a memorable way, the team’s seniors boarded the bus home with tears and smiles.
“It was really exciting to be able to get that for the school,” Douglas said. “We have such good team chemistry. There’s no other group that I’d rather win it with.”