KANSAS CITY –– The Sacred Heart volleyball team accomplished one of the toughest feats in sports Saturday, repeating as a state champion.
Ranked No. 1 for most of the season, the Gremlins battled back from a one-game deficit to beat Eminence 21-25, 25-22, 25-23 at Municipal Auditorium.
“We are so proud of these girls,” Sacred Heart Principal Dr. Mark Register said. “They’re good kids, they’re good students and what a classic volleyball match. It couldn’t get any better.”
This group of seniors won a then-record 27 games as freshmen but lost in the district final and shared the conference title with Cole Camp.
They won 26 more games as sophomores but again fell short of a district title and a playoff berth. They shared the conference title again with Cole Camp.
That changed the following season. They won the conference tournament and regular-season titles, captured their first district title since 2000 and rolled to their first state title.
“We’ve watched these girls play for so long and they’ve remained poised under pressure,” Register said. “It was nerve-racking but this couldn’t happen to a better group of girls.”
Sacred Heart’s fans have played an integral role in the Gremlins’ success.
Hundreds of supporters were adorned in Sacred Heart gear Saturday, some dressed in high red socks and baseball caps while some went as far as to wear capes and face paint.
A day earlier, Eminence fans thought their team had found a chink in the Gremlins’ armor, splitting two games in pool play.
Sacred Heart players and fans were greeted with chants of “overrated” by Redwings supporters, but Saturday was a new day.
Chants of “SHHS, SHHS, SHHS!” and “We are Sacred Heart!” set the tone for the game as worried and eager parents yelled and screamed to give Sacred Heart the neutral court advantage.
The Gremlins regrouped after a tough first-game loss and relied on experience and teamwork to carry them over the hump.
“When any one of us is down or struggling, we’ll come through as a team,” starting senior Laura McMullin said. “We’re able to communicate better than last year and we’ve worked well as a team in being there to pick each other up.”
The Gremlins hoisted the trophy for the second straight year, capping their second straight 30-win season.
When asked where the trophy would be placed, Register said, “It’s going right next to the one from last year.”