I attended the 46th Annual Volleyball State Finals at the spacious Worthen Arena on the Ball State University Campus in Muncie. On our way there, my wife recalled great memories around and on campus while attending years ago. Due to making a wrong turn, we went by the small elementary school where she did her student teaching which stimulated thinking about the benefits of small schools. Undoubtedly, there are many as proven over and over in Hope's long history.

Our Jets were playing against a team ranked #1 all year in the Class A State Championship game, the Lafayette Central Catholic Knights. We arrived early enough to be there as the players and the coaches made their way to the playing court. Admittedly, I got rather emotional. I was standing and proudly applauding with many, many Hauser fans as our band played. It was indeed a special moment!

The first set found us taking the lead at 7-6 only to get behind as much as 5 points, 10-15. Typical of this team, we got back in the match and pulled in the lead at 23-22 forcing a time out by Coach Brad McCarter of the Knights. We then won the next point to go up at 24-22 with our crowd now standing hoping for the next and final point of the set. It was not to be as we went down 24-26.

With this being our first appearance in the Volleyball State Finals unlike Lafayette Central Catholic, I think it was even more important to win the first set. Then again, the Jets had proven they could stay with the Knights! Just maybe, we could still find a way to win the match. (I was aware that the Knights had not lost one set in the entire tourney, a perfect 15-0 record!)

In the second set, we got behind by as many as 10 points but got within five at 12-17. We even closed the gap to 4 points 18-22 before losing 19-25. Would the Hauser Lady Jets quit? No! There was still very much a fighting spirit as demonstrated throughout the tourney and year. Coach Case, through all of his experiences as a player and a coach, was well aware of how a match could turn.

Consequently, we took the lead 7-6 in the third set. However, we could not continue our rhythm with the final score being 15-25.

Why did we lose this match? Well, one factor was our ball control difficulties which led to better ball control and more points by the Knights. To our credit, there were not many balls that hit our court; however, we could not consistently get the ball to the target area that is the focus practice after practice. That's enough critiquing!

Most importantly, we always played with great determination and heart! Each player contributed to and shared in Sydney Schoen receiving the Mental Attitude Award.

Years ago, I had the opportunity to help with the 1980-1981 Jennings County team that advanced to the State Championship. They did not win but held their heads proudly while receiving their IHSAA medals like our young ladies. The coach, Gayle Mills, was kind of enough to make sure I received one, an award I will always highly cherish.

When working with the Hauser program a little over the years, it was my hope a Hauser volleyball team could experience receiving the medal. Now, the 2017-2018 squad accomplished it in the 46th year of the tourney! Each will always remember this season! The Community of Hope will always remember this season! No words can possibly express our appreciation, but know our hearts deeply do!

THANKS so much!!