Thursday, October 29th marked the beginning of the 2015 Shamrock volleyball team’s journey to the Final Four. Before heading off to Cape Girardeau, the volleyball team was waved off by both the high school/middle school and the elementary.
When arriving in Cape Girardeau, each team in the Final Four has a scheduled one hour practice in the Show-Me Center at Southeast Missouri State University. The Shamrocks’ final practice to prepare was at 1 P.M.
On Friday, October 30th, the Shamrocks were set to play Santa Fe at 10, Winona at 12, and Bernie at 2. If the Shamrocks were to come in the top 2 in their pool, they would advance to the championship. But if the Shamrocks were to fall in the bottom 2 spots in their pool, they would drop to the 3rd and 4th place game.
The Shamrocks second match was against the Wildcats of Winona. Winona has won the Class 1 State Championship 3 consecutive years, so going into the game, the Shamrocks had their work cut out for them. In the first set against the Wildcats, New Haven came out strong, winning, 25-22. Keeping their momentum from the first set, the Shamrocks came out firing again, sweeping the second set, 25-15. In this match, senior Emma Borcherding had 5 kills and 2 aces, and senior Maddie Fleer had 4 kills.
Going into their final pool play game of the day, the Shamrocks had full control over their destiny. If the Shamrocks would beat the Bernie Mules in two sets, they would advance into the championship match. If the Shamrocks lost two to Bernie, they would automatically be knocked into the third place match. If the Shamrocks and Bernie split, a third set would decide the tie, a new deciding factor added by MSHSAA.
With their future in mind, the Shamrocks came out on fire in the first set against the Mules. The ending score for the first set was 25-16, putting the Shamrocks up 1-0 to Bernie. In the second set, both the Shamrocks and the Mules went back and forth with momentum, each team making the game harder for the other. The game ended for the Shamrocks with a block from middle hitter Emma Engelbrecht, ultimately giving the Shamrocks a second set victory, 25-23. In this match, senior Erin Scheer had 20 assists and sophomore Emma Engelbrecht had 6 kills. With a two-set win against Bernie, New Haven (4-2) was granted their spot in the Class 1 MSHSAA State Championship match against the Santa Fe Chiefs, who were 5-1 for the day.
“When I found out we were going to get the opportunity to play in the state championship game, I was so excited,” states Emma Engelbrecht. “It was like everything our team has worked countless hours on was paying off once and for all. Words can’t describe how awesome of a feeling it was!”
On October 31st, 2015, the Shamrocks played at 4:30 p.m. in the Show-Me Center. In this match, both teams came out strong. Santa Fe and New Haven were neck and neck. At one point, it looked as if Santa Fe was going to pull away, but the Shamrocks came back tying the game at 25-25. Back and forth the teams went, but in the end the Chiefs of Santa Fe took the first set, 28-26. In the second set, the Shamrocks and Chiefs went back at it again, shifting momentum between both sides. Ultimately, Santa Fe finished the set, 25-10, winning the 1st place title.
Although the Shamrocks did not win the championship, the girls stood together, facing the crowd, and received their medals and 2nd place plaque. Following the medal ceremony, New Haven students expressed their support for the team’s hard work by singing the Alma Mater in unison.
In regard to her team’s performance, coach Jaime Hoener said her team played “with everything they had, and with a lot of heart. Sometimes you get beat, but no matter the outcome the girls should be proud of the way they played.”
Senior Lauren Bergner added, “It’s hard not to achieve a goal you’ve had since your freshman year, especially for the seniors this year. Everything my team had was left out on the court, and knowing we played our very best makes the sting of losing hurt less. I’m so proud of how far this team has come. I’m really enjoyed this season with the best teammates in the world!”
The Shamrocks ended their season with a record of 31-9.