During a historic and unprecedented volleyball season, the Goldsboro volleyball team has played every game as if it could be their last game.
The Cougars’ mentality is the cornerstone of success for a group of players who have come together as a team at the right time.
So, on Tuesday night, the Cougars made history.
Down 2-1 to Midway and reeling from a challenging third set, the Cougars – somehow – dug deep and found that burning desire that had been present during their fantastic season.
What followed was nothing less than remarkable.
The Cougars used their grit and determination to come back and win the fourth and fifth sets to finally achieve what has eluded them for so long – a conference championship.
“In the first set, we just busted through the door, but Midway is a great team, and we gave them a great shot, but Midway came back and gave us their best shot,” Goldsboro head coach T.J. Lancaster said. “They are a great defensive team, and they picked up everything, but I think the biggest thing our girls did is that after the second set, they said ‘no,’ and they banded together to see this thing through.”
The Cougars toppled Midway 25-13, 14-25, 26-28, 25-20, 15-11 to remain undefeated and win the East Central 2A Conference title.
It is the first conference title in program history.
“When you don’t know what your future is going to be, it can be very nerve-wracking, and every young woman who is playing volleyball right now has been through a rollercoaster, and having this moment for this group, I am so glad,” Lancaster said. “I knew they could do it, but I just didn’t know if they would get the opportunity, and they got the opportunity, and they showed what they are capable of doing.
“That is why I’m so happy for them because they had a chance, and they grabbed it.”
Down 4-0 in the fifth set, Goldsboro used a 10-6 run to tie the set at 10-all. The Cougars took the lead for good on a block from Hallie Brown.
Dantzler Bonner’s kill increased the gap to 12-10, which forced Midway to burn a timeout.
However, the Cougars were not going to be denied, and they used a 3-1 run to seal the game.
“The biggest thing right there was we had to get that serve receive because we’ve got to get a good swing on it,” Lancaster said. “We’ve got a good team across the board, but we had to get that serve receive because we’ve got find a corner, and that’s what we started to do.”
Playing in their final regular-season home game, seniors Anna Miranda, Haley Phillips, Annie Foery, Bella Sardina and Gia Nelson left everything out on the court.
Lancaster said the seniors’ contributions to the program over the past four years would never be forgotten, especially with a banner hanging inside the Norvell T. Gymnasium.
“I can remember working with these girls when they were in the sixth and seventh grades, and they already had a hunger for the game,” Lancaster said. “You can teach them to play the game, but you can’t teach fire and hunger, and I saw that in them.
“They’ve worked so hard on every level just to become better ballplayers, and I’m over the moon with their achievements. I’m so proud that they got the chance to experience this because a lot of teams helped build to this point, but they are ones who had it in them to plant their flag on the proverbial mountain.”
The Cougars (12-0 overall) will face Midway again (9-2) on Thursday.