The Immanuel Lutheran School Warriors eighth-grade volleyball team recently wrapped up what most would consider a very successful season.
The Warriors finished the season with a dominant 43-3 record.
However, this is not the first time this group of eighth-grade students have experienced success on the volleyball court.
The team stacks up against some of the best in school history.
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The group had not lost a game from fifth grade until this season.
“Up until this loss in the tournament this year, I don’t think they had lost a set,” coach Mindy Roeder said.
Their only losses came to larger schools in tournaments throughout the state.
The 2016 season featured the Warriors capturing victories through several tournaments.
The Warriors won the St. James Lutheran Tournament in Lafayette, Lutheran Invitation Tournament, Lutheran State Tournament and the Brownstown volleyball tournament.
The team also competed in the Munciana Middle School State Tournament, which features many powerhouse volleyball teams.
That tournament is where the team was handed its three losses on the year.
“Despite the losses, they had a great turnout in this tournament,” Roeder said, adding that the tournament had a pooling and re-pooling format.
The Warriors lost their first match to Heritage Christian of Indianapolis, but bounced back in the re-pool to defeat Greenfield-Central Middle School.
Roeder said Greenfield-Central had only lost one game in school history.
The team also showed mental toughness by winning the final set 15-11 after coming back from a 9-2 deficit to start the set.
The Warriors then lost to Barr-Reeve in the single elimination tournament.
But the team’s success does not compare to its bond, Roeder said.
“They’re sweet, kind and very supportive of each other,” she said. “Whether you’re the A player or the player that doesn’t get in the game that much, they’re very sweet and treat you as a teammate.”
Lauren Knieriem, a player on the team said this has been her favorite year playing on the Warriors volleyball team.
She said it is great to be surrounded by a close-knit group of girls.
“(It’s) so awesome to be on a team with all these Christian girls,” she said. “By far, it was one of my favorite years for volleyball.”
Knieriem said everything the team has done throughout the year was an example of the faith they learned in school and have in each other.
“Everything we did really reflected our faith and we had fun doing it,” she said. “I just feel so blessed to be with a team where our hard work has really paid off.”
Bailey Reynolds, one of Nieriem’s teammates, agreed that the group was close to each other and that she considers her teammates some of her best friends.
“So far it’s been the best time of my life being able to be a part of a team with such amazing friends on and off the court,” Reynolds said, adding that the team has experienced much together over the last four years. “It has been an amazing adventure with ups and downs all throughout the four years we’ve been playing together.”
Some of the players on the team are newer to the sport and struggled with serving throughout the season, but during one game both players made a serve that sailed over the net.
The team started the year with three unable to make a serve over the net, but all three made a serve in the same game.
“When the serve went over, the entire bench was on the floor and the whole fan section roared,” Roeder said. “The girl was so excited she cried.”
Roeder said it should be fun to watch the team grow and move on in the sport.
“If they all stick with it, it’s going to be impressive to see them in high school,” she said. “They play year round volleyball and their heart is in.”
Roeder said she was proud of her team for how it responded to adversity throughout difficult times in games.
“Their dedication to the sport is incredible,” she said. “The come to practice ready to work, they listen, they understand there’s no way to get better without practice and they’re a respectable bunch of girls.”
The school looks to continue to have bright future in volleyball.
The coaching staff thinks the teams coming up will continue the success this latest team has produced.
“That school loves volleyball,” she said. “I looked at the years and there’s height, quickness, athleticism and heart.”
Those that were a part of the 2016 Immanuel Lutheran eighth grade volleyball team included: Lauren Knieriem, Kennedi Wienhorst, Elly Carter, Ally Stuckwisch, Alyssa Huber, Kennedy Hoffman, Grace Meyer, Bailey Reynolds, Gabby Murphy, Maddie Nay, coaches Mindy Roeder and Brad Henry and manager Flossie Cooper.