Completing one of the most amazing and exhaustive comeback roads in state tournament volleyball history, Ensworth rallied once again to win the DII-AA championship.
For the third time in three days, Ensworth rallied from two games down and won a match. But on Friday afternoon, it was for all the marbles.
The Tigers stormed back one more and beat St. Benedict of Memphis 17-25, 20-25, 26-24, 25-17, 15-9 in the finals at MTSU and avenged their only tournament loss.
“I had a dream this would happen,” junior Nikki Gittens, who had the block at the net to end the two-hour match, said. “I was able to just get a touch on it at the net, and it went over. We all kept our focus and composure when we got behind.”
“We all came together as a team that fifth game,” 5-8 junior ReJean Rouse, who was a dominant force at the net and had four kills and two blocks the final game and was named tournament MVP, said. “We never gave up on ourselves when we got behind.”
The match finally turned in the third game. Ensworth (36-8) fell behind 10-6 early, but finally caught up at 19-19 on a Rouse spike.
It fell behind again 23-21, two points from defeat, but fought back to lead 25-24. On the Tigers’ second game point, Rouse hammered down a spike.
Then they took control.
“From our summer camp, when we had a great match with Independence, I had a feeling this team was headed for great things,” former Hillsboro High star Eva Lea said of the school’s first volleyball championship.
As for the come-from-behind wins, she said, “I know it’s cliché, but this team truly was a Cinderella team. It was so resilient and had so much fight.”
On Wednesday, Ensworth rallied to beat St. Agnes, then lost to St. Benedict. Then Thursday, the Tigers rallied again to beat Baylor to reach the finals.
“When we got down two games, we were thinking, ‘Hey, this is our story. We’ll do it.’ I don’t want to say we were thinking it’s in the bag, but we were very confident,” Lea said. “ReJean and Nikki are truly crunch-time players. Our setter, senior Mackinnon Morrissey was such a concise player and one of our most pure athletes.”