The quarterfinal match was the make or break for the Shamrocks. Winning would send them to the final four in Cape Girardeau; losing would leave them sitting at home empty handed. The Shamrocks came in right off the bat and took control of the game, winning the first set, 25-16. By the second set, the momentum was on the Shamrocks’ side. The fans, the benches, and the players were all excited, building with energy. Thanks to a kill by middle hitter Taylor Covington to end the game, the Shamrocks won 25-14.
The New Haven crowd went crazy, and the players huddled on to the middle of the floor. Tears of joy and happiness were flowing from not only the players, but also the parents, fans, and even the coaches. When asked about the feeling of going to state, senior setter Kenzy Vedder stated, “It didn’t feel real. I felt like we were on top of the world! I really can’t explain it in words, but I felt like all of our hard work finally paid off.”
In the locker room, coach Hoener announced that the girls had not only earned the opportunity to go to the Final Four in Cape Girardeau, but also earned the coveted sweatshirts she had promised to give to her next final four team. The Shamrocks ended their victory night with tons of pictures and quality time with their family and friends.
Thursday, October 30, started the final journey to Cape Girardeau.The girls left NHHS at 9 AM with a wave off from their fellow students and teachers, followed by a short trip to the elementary school before takeoff. Thursday afternoon, the Lady Shamrocks practiced in the Show-Me Center and then went back to their hotel to rest.
Friday, October 31, the Lady Shamrocks started off their morning by playing St. Vincent-Perryville at 9 AM. In this match, it was the St. Vincent Indians that stole the show, taking both sets 25-18, 25-18..
The Shamrocks turned the tables in their second game, though. In their 11 AM match against Santa Fe, the Shamrocks came out with more energy than before. The Shamrocks beat the Chiefs in two sets, 25-21, 25-23.
Suddenly, the stakes were at an all time high for the Lady Shamrocks. If the Shamrocks beat Winona in two sets, they earned a spot into the top two to play for the championship. If they lost in two, they automatically earned a spot in the third and fourth place game. If they split, the results would be complicated. In the first set against back-to-back State Champion Winona, the Shamrocks fell short, 15-25. With all odds against them, the Shamrocks fought back, taking the second set 25-19.
With Sante Fe defeating St. Vincent in two sets, New Haven and St. Vincent were both tied with 3 wins and 3 losses. Unfortunately, since St. Vincent beat New Haven in two sets, New Haven fell in the bottom part of the bracket. The looks on the girls faces said it all; there were no more happy tears, only sad.
“When I found out that we were playing for third, my heart broke. It felt as if my dreams were being shattered, and that is the absolutely most awful feeling in the entire world,” stated middle hitter Lauren Bergner.
The following day, November 1st, the Shamrocks again played at 9 AM against the Santa Fe Chiefs. The Shamrocks came out with some fire in them, winning the first set, 25-19. In the second set, both the Chiefs and the Shamrocks put up a fight, resulting in a loss for the Shamrocks, 17-25. In the the third set, the win would result in a third place plaque, a loss in a fourth. Both teams came out determined. In the end, the Shamrocks fell to the Santa Fe Chiefs, 22-25.
The Lady Shamrocks went back to the locker room, saddened and heartbroken, yet they kept one thing, the love for their teammates. Every single girl in the locker room gave numerous hugs and thank you’s to their teammates. Katie Peirick gave one of her inspirational speeches. In her speech, Peirick mentioned, “The pain of this loss stings, but we are a team. Some teams would kill to be in our position, even though we got fourth.”
All in all, the Shamrocks road to the final four has been a fun and exciting one. Whether it be a tough team, or an injury, the Shamrocks never lost themselves in the mix. Tears, triumph, teamwork: this was the Shamrock season.
-by Lauren Bergner