Volleyball: 3-time State Champs

Photo+courtesy+of+Denise+Ploof
Photo courtesy of Denise Ploof

Photo courtesy of Denise Ploof

Photo courtesy of Denise Ploof

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Photo courtesy of Denise Ploof

Photo courtesy of Denise Ploof

By Hailey Maher

The Lions Volleyball team collapsed to the ground after winning the final point in the State Championship game on Saturday, Nov. 15 at St. Martin’s University. As their fans stormed the court to greet them, the girls cried and hugged, overcome with emotion. But this was not their first time holding the coveted 4A state championship trophy. By beating Emerald Ridge in three sets (25-18, 25-17, 25-18), the Lions made school history in winning their third consecutive state championship.
“It was surreal,” said senior setter Natalie Jensen, signed to University of Idaho, who led the team with 30 assists, “We worked really hard on becoming a team and becoming a family. It didn’t always come easy, but we pushed through it. We made it come together.”
Coach Jody DeGroot said after the match, “It’s been exciting. I think it helps having players before them having been part of this winning streak, so they got on the court today and it was familiar.”
Bellarmine played Emerald Ridge twice before this year, winning once and losing once. DeGroot said, “We treated them like a team we hadn’t seen before. You never go into it saying, ‘We’ve done this before, we’re going to do it again.’ We go into it saying, ‘This is a new team.’ We’ve got to worry about what’s happening on our side of the court and take care of our business.”
And the Lions did just that. Senior middle Claire Martin, signed to Washington State University, who had six blocks in the championship, said, “I think it was one of the best matches our team has ever played.”
Junior middle Megan Jacobsen said, “The best part was the relief of winning and celebrating together afterwards.”
Senior hitter Reghan Pukis, signed to UNLV, had 16 kills that night. “I wanted to do it for these girls,” Pukis said. “We look at this like a family. We went out there and it was like you were playing for your family members, and you wouldn’t let someone beat up on your family.”
For Pukis, this really is a family game. Her sister Hannah, a freshman, played on the court right beside her. Hannah echoed her sister when she said the best part of the weekend was bonding together, “In the time between the semifinals and finals, we all sat in the hotel room, and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard. No one was talking about winning. We were all just enjoying being with each other this one last time.”
Well, the last time was certainly a time to remember. It’s not every day a team wins three consecutive state championships.
Reghan Pukis said, “I know I’ll remember this win and this team for the rest of my life.”

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Volleyball: 3-time State Champs