If this were the big leagues, you can bet there would have been bubbly flowing in the locker room afterward.
But this isn’t and there wasn’t.
Sure, there was the normal postgame gaiety with parents and players converging on the court for hugs and congratulations.
It just wasn’t near the celebration you’d expect to accompany a momentous postseason-clinching victory for a Lady Knights volleyball team that’s reaped disappointment over the last half a dozen years.
With a three-game sweep, that included closing runs of 14-2, 11-2 and 8-2 in Tuesday’s 25-13, 25-16, 25-23 victory over Waco Midway, the Harker Heights volleyball program secured its first playoff berth since 2006, and first under fourth-year head coach Chris Wiley.
But while there was plenty of merriment going on, it was of a subdued nature.
That’s because the mission isn’t finished yet. Floating in uncharted waters, the 20th-ranked Lady Knights (35-4, 9-1 8-5A) have proven themselves to be counted among the state’s volleyball elite.
Through a skyscraper-like front line and the experience and chemistry that comes with years of working toward this one goal, Harker Heights has what it takes to continue its run deep into the postseason.
Led by five players standing 5-foot-11 and taller, a senior setter with pinpoint placement and a defense that refuses to let the ball hit the floor, the Lady Knights also have the confidence to accomplish some incredible things this season.
But all their high hopes rest squarely on what happens Tuesday.
They’ve eclipsed the first barrier in their climb up the mountain of success — Heights is in.
Now comes the hard part — upending perennial playoff contender Copperas Cove (31-6, 10-0) on the road.
While the Lady Knights have floundered near the bottom of the district standings the last few years, the No. 15 Lady Dawgs have flourished, reaching the playoffs each of the last seven seasons.
And there doesn’t appear to be any slowing down in this year’s team.
Cove is in the midst of a 17-game winning streak and is the lone team to knock off Heights in more than a month with a 17-25, 25-16, 25-15, 25-6 victory on the road three weeks ago.
The stakes couldn’t be higher for both teams.
A victory means the long-sought-after district championship for the Lady Bulldawgs, who have played bridesmaid to A&M Consolidated each of the last two years, including suffering their only two losses in District 12-5A last year to the Lady Tigers.
But for the Lady Knights, a win could mean even more.
Not only will it put Heights in position for its own title shot, it’ll be proof that they’re ready to compete on the state’s biggest stage.
And that’s something worth celebrating.
Contact Alex Byington at email@example.com or (254) 501-7566