A smile came across the face of each Northern Valley team member on the court.
The Huskies needed just one more point, and the Class 1A Division II state championship would be their own.
Back-to-back kills by junior Paige Baird had put the Huskies in the situation, and they all were enjoying it. With just that one point needed, senior Chaylee Lowry served, and with no return resulting in an ace, the Huskies celebrated with a team dog pile on their side of the court. Northern Valley beat Otis-Bison, 25-15, 25-17 to win the school's second ever state volleyball title.
"It was amazing," Northern Valley sophomore middle blocker Jasmine Covington said of the championship.
A program that had not been to state in 24 years and had been beaten five straight years in the sub-state championship, everyone associated with the Huskies' volleyball team looked as if they agreed with Covington's assessment.
"It's mind blowing. I can't even put it into words," junior Paige Baird said. "It's a game of momentum. You just have to go out there and play your game and work as a team."
As both Northern Valley coach Kirsten Baird's daughter and a member of the team for three years, Paige Baird had seen and been through the agony. Her mother had been building the program the last five years, as each time, the team came up short of state.
For both of them, the moment of winning the state championship is one they will enjoy together for a long while before preparing to defend their title next season.
"We just walked onto the court, and we just had confidence," coach Baird said.
"No (the confidence has not been there all year). We've had our ups and downs."
The Huskies exuded their best confidence at the most crucial moments Saturday. A back-and-forth battle with No. 1 seed and Western Kansas Liberty League rival Grainfield-Wheatland/Grinnell was where the Huskies were able to show it the most.
Dropping the first set against the Thunderhawks, 25-22, Northern Valley kept its composure. The Huskies won the second set 27-25, then in as exciting a set as any before, clipped Wheatland/Grinnell, 25-23.
In what felt like a championship match all itself, the Huskies had to compose themselves for the actual title match.
"We have been so close to playing in state before," coach Baird said. "They knew in their heart they could do it."
In the championship, Northern Valley dominated Otis-Bison in the first set. Other than scoring four straight points early to close an early deficit to 6-5, the Cougars never really were in it. Covington put the first set away with a kill.
The momentum didn't seem to follow the Huskies into the second set, though. Otis-Bison built a 7-1 lead. Northern Valley responded with a 10-0 run. The Cougars were able to tie it on multiple occasions, but a three-point run by the Huskies that made it 18-15 was too much for Otis-Bison.
"It's crazy to think about," Paige Baird said. "We won."
The Thunderhawks, who won the state title two years ago and was runner-up last year, bounced back in the third-place match to beat Beloit-St.John's/Tipton, 25-21, 25-20.