Sioux Falls, SD
Saturday's 'AA' Championship match was pretty much the Lincoln Patriots' season in a nutshell. The Pats were favorites at the beginning. They had some tough times in the middle, but in the end they pulled it off.
"We had to have a quiet confidence in terms of what the expectations were. It's been a tough season because this is where everyone thought we should be, and to be here like everyone expected it's probably one of the best accomplishments you can think of," Lincoln Head Coach Erika Paladino-Hazlett said.
Lincoln's second straight title almost didn't happen. The Pats fell behind the hard hitting Roosevelt Rough Riders two sets to none. But the veteran squad wasn't going down without a fight.
"That was our last chance. We knew it was either make it or bad break right here," senior Erin Radke said.
"We worked so hard. But we knew that if we kept working hard and kept chipping and chipping that the game could be in our hands once again," senior setter Kersten Bork said.
Seven seniors led the way for the Pats this season, led by Iowa-recruit Erin Radke. With high expectations all season long, the back-to-back champs couldn't have pictured a better ending.
"Coming into the season number one, then having that loss to O'Gorman, then coming back and finishing number one, I mean, there's no feeling like it in the world. It feels really good," Radke said.
"We knew it would be tough. We had some up and downs throughout the year and it feels so good to not only begin number one but end number one," Bork said.