'Belles defeat conference rival for the first time in eight years
No. 1 Seed in LSC playoffs in sight
There was shouting, there were tears and there was a flood of emotions going through the Junell Center last Friday when the ball hit the court floor for the final time in the 'Belles victory over West Texas A&M.
It was the 'Belles' first win over West Texas A&M since 2004.
The 'Belles defeated the six-time consecutive reigning champions in four sets by scores of 25-17, 18-25, 25-20 and 25-21 in front of a 1,312 strong crowd.
The 'Belles, barring catastrophic losses, will host the 2012 Lone Star Conference Volleyball Tournament as the No. 1 seed.
"I've been coming to ASU games for about seven, eight years now, and I'd rank that as the biggest match I've ever seen in this building." ASU alumnus Rich Schumacher said.
That match has put the 'Belles in position to win the Lone Star Conference Championship, a feat that has not been accomplished since 1992, but one that Head Coach Chuck Waddington said he has his eyes zeroed in on.
"Anytime you do something you've been trying to do for five years, you're going to feel pretty good about it," Waddington said.But the first thing I said to our girls after we got done screaming was this is just a piece of the puzzle. This is a piece of something bigger that we want and this was something that we had to do to help us get it."
That puzzle is the Lone Star Conference Championship and the NCAA D-II National Championship that follows afterward, and the 'Belles are just a handful of pieces away from completing that puzzle.
After the first two sets were split, Waddington said he challenged his players in the locker room and re-energized them with words of motivation.
"I told them wanting it is not enough." Waddington said. "There is no question that I want to win and you want to win and we all want to win, but unless you've got something extra right now, you're not going to win. I said you've got to have that gear, that knob to turn it up, whatever it is, you've got to find it and crank it up. Otherwise, it is not going to happen."
The 'Belles wanted it, they found something extra and they cranked out two more successful sets to win the match.
"There was definitely a lot of adrenaline going on," junior Shelbi Goode said, who had 20 kills. "When we had that really long rally and came out on top of that, I looked at my team and said we're going to win."
The 'Belles won after Goode made the final kill and senior Alex Woolsey said she was at a loss of words to describe it.
"It was just amazing," Woolsey said. "I don't even know what to say. It was just unbelievable. It was an unreal feeling and hopefully we have it again."
Others said they rejoiced that they had finally achieved their goal of beating the champs.
"I just thought it's about time," senior Emily Booth said. "We've been trying since our freshman year and fighting and working our butts off. It just feels really good to accomplish the goals that we set out to do."
The 'Belles never gave up despite losing all those matches, including their one conference loss this year, to West Texas A&M.
"It was frustrating over the years when we just couldn't get that win," Booth said. "But we all knew we could do it. We knew it would come, so we never had a doubt."
Booth said her favorite all-time memory at ASU so far is the win over West Texas A&M.
"Our season's not over yet, so it may change," Booth said. "But right now I would say the win over West Texas. Nothing can compare to that so far."
Woolsey said she agreed with Booth and said, "Beating WT is my favorite memory. Yesterday it would've been different, but now it's definitely beating WT."
Even Goode, a transfer from the University of Alabama, said she had high opinions for the game.
"This goes down as one of my favorite games to ever play," Goode said. "It was a blast from start to finish, and I'm just so proud of my team and I'm really glad we could pull this off."
Junior Maddie Huth led the team with 21 kills, and sophomore Shelby Wilt set a new career high with 41 digs.
As for where to rank the match in ASU moments in sports, Waddington had this to say.
"Well, for volleyball it is pretty high," Waddington said. "But the people that won those national championships up there [indicating the banners that hang from the ceiling in the Junell Center] I'm sure they felt just a little bit better than we feel right now."
The 'Belles capped off the weekend with their Senior Day game on Saturday against Eastern New Mexico University and won in three sets by scores of 25-17, 25-10 and 25-14.
The Senior Day game is always the last home game of the regular season and after the game, the 'Belles honored the five seniors, who were Waddington's first full recruiting class.
Woolsey, Booth and fellow seniors Katie Coleman, Chelsea Gibson and Alisa Meredith were given bouquets and special jerseys to commemorate their time at ASU.
However, what normally would be a tearful goodbye, was really a party with cake, juice and laughter because none of the five women believed that this was their last home game.
"It's hard to be sad when you're not," Woolsey said.
Woolsey is the team's leader in assists with 1,000 of the entire team's 1,206 total assists and is second on ASU's all-time list with 4,691 career assists.
The 'Belles have been perfect at home this season, while winning 11 consecutive matches with a 22-3 overall record.
The 'Belles' 15-1 conference record is two wins better than the runner-up, Tarleton State University, but Waddington said he will not let those numbers distract him.
"Nothing is concrete," Waddington said. "Everything is fluid in this game, and in our conference anything can happen. We want to finish off our year playing at the highest level possible. We're going to continue to train hard and get better. We want to be the best that we can be. We don't want to be thought of as good and we peaked and beat West Texas and that was it. That's not the legacy of this team, and that's not what they want either."
The 'Belles' first of their four remaining games is Friday, Nov. 2 against the University of Incarnate Word at 7 p.m. in San Antonio.
"I don't think this is going to be our last home game," Alex Woolsey said, who is 96 assists away from becoming the 'Belles' all-time leader.
If the 'Belles go undefeated over the next four games, it won't be.
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