After best finish in four years, Lady Saints already looking forward

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 18, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

&uot;Once tryouts were over and the team was decided, everyone was ready, everyone excited. Nine different girls of different ages and sizes were ready for the season and all of its surprises.&uot;

Back on Nov. 3, Shane Foster watched his Nansemond-Suffolk Academy girls volleyball team pull out its toughest win of the season. The Lady Saints had fallen in two contests with Norfolk Collegiate earlier in the season, and now looked to be about to experience a sad repeat in the quarterfinals of the TCIS tournament, dropping the first two games.

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But then the Suffolk squad did a 360-degree turn. They bolted past the Norfolk girls in the next two games, then simply outlasted them in the third, 20-18 to move to the semis for the first time in four seasons.

As Foster watched his girls leave the court after the victory, he saw that they’d learned something that’s more important than a jumping kill or an overhand serve.

He noticed a thing called sportsmanship. Though his girls had had a tough contest, they didn’t rub their win in the disappointed faces of their opponents. As each Lady Saints strolled past the net, they were all reaching out for handshakes and congratulating Collegiate on a fine go-round.

&uot;You don’t just try to teach the girls to be good volleyball players,&uot; Foster told the crowd at the NSA girls volleyball banquet Tuesday evening. &uot;You teach things like integrity and character. This is a wonderful look back at a season of fond memories and a sense of accomplishment and achievement.&uot;

Parris Grieder got the player’s award, and Ellen Giermak the Coach’s award. Kristin Nuckles was named the top defender, and Minka Foster the top offensive star. Michelle Boucher, who made the First All-TCIS team as a sophomore, got the Most Valuable Player (Nuckles got Honorable Mention All-TCIS, and was named to the All-Tournament team).

&uot;So even though this season’s through, and we’ll be gone next year, we want you to know we loved it all, every laugh and every tear.&uot;

During the junior varsity season in which his girls went 7-2 for third in the TCIS, Bill Sanford recalled his fellow coaches coming up and complimenting him and how much his team had improved.

&uot;One of the joys this season was our exponential growth, both in each individual and the team,&uot; Sanford said. &uot;There was one player who stood out, who took whatever the coaches offered her and put it to work.&uot; He was referring to Most Improved winner Jade Bishop. Tommy Coxe got the player’s award, and Jessie Kitz the Coach’s award.

&uot;Yes, we may be gone next year, but the memories will remain. Don’t make Foster lose anymore hair, and be sure to keep Sanford sane. So thanks for all the memories of this year and years past. Best of luck in the future, girls – it’s been nothing but a blast!&uot;

– from Nansemond-Suffolk Academy seniors Ashlee Robb and Natalie Cutchins’ farewell poem