Upsets are fun. Setting your sights on an improbable goal then achieving that against all odds brings about extreme jubilation, confidence, and pride.
Unfortunately, every action has an equal, opposite reaction. The Warriors found themselves on the wrong side of an upset Saturday.
I found myself on the wrong side of it, too. Never make bets as a reporter. I bet my time and gas money on the Warriors making it past the first round. Planning for the hour it would take the other first round game to transpire, I figured I could save myself two hours by coming to the second round.
There was no second round.
I found this out in the parking lot of Southeast of Saline High School, which I had just spent an hour driving to. I never made it in the gym. The team, reasonably bummed out, had left. I turned around and headed back myself.
What an anticlimactic ending! This had been the best season in Warriors volleyball history, and it was stolen in a snap, a two-set slump that put an end to a great run and the high school careers of six dedicated seniors.
Sports can be harsh. Memories can be too. It’ll be tough to look back on this season and forget the way it ended. Especially if you’re one of those six seniors.
The thing of it is, it happened. It’s set in stone. The season is over. The only way to get past defeat is to accept it.
The silver lining is that once you accept the defeat, you can start to see the forest for the trees, and you can see the season for the great play it produced.
The Warriors had a heck of a year. Nothing they did Saturday could have undone that.
I find it fitting that I missed the finale. The last time I saw the Warriors in uniform, Kourtney Hansen had tears of joy in her eyes from reeling off eight consecutive serves that the Warriors were able to capitalize on as they came back on Hutch Trinity.
That run — from 17-24 to 26-24 — defines the Warriors season and this team. Saturday’s defeat is but a footnote.
How many teams in the country won a league championship on a 9-0 stretch with their backs against the wall? If it’s more than five, I’d be stunned. The feeling of mounting a comeback, going from virtual hopelessness to certitude and elation, dominant teams don’t get to experience that.
And the Warriors, great as their record was, were never dominant. They were scrappy, they were persistent, and they were characterized by fits of temporary invincibility.
They were never meant to be favorites, for they embodied the underdog. Their outside hitter was 5-foot-3. They didn’t win with size. They didn’t win with dominance.
They won with heart.
So I didn’t need to see the game Saturday. I have plenty to remember this team by already.
What I’ll remember is the sinister play of setter Kirsten Hansen, whose ability to manipulate defenses and exploit their weaknesses is borderline villainous, not to mention tremendously entertaining.
I’ll remember Bailey Robson, Marshelle Mermis, and Erika Hess, all smart players, committed, well-suited to their roles, who all blossomed into great leaders in their senior years.
I’ll remember the air under the shoes of Shelby Felvus and Marissa Jacobson, a couple juniors who can jump-rope the net and bludgeon the ball.
I’ll remember that run against Hutch Trinity, with Kourtney Hansen getting ready to serve her fourth consecutive game point, and laughing — tension be damned.
Volleyball is fun, and the Warriors this season were the most fun. You heard it from parents. You heard it from coaches. I even overheard it from referees.
Absolutely, this season didn’t end the way anyone wanted. But that fact pales in comparison to another, more-important truth: It happened.
Thirty-three wins. All while playing the game the right way. What a year. Congrats, Warriors.