A Heartfelt Last Volleyball Game


CENTENNIAL HIGH SCHOOL- Knowing that something will be the last of anything is always heartwrenching. Depending on the situation, it can be bittersweet. So, you try to make the best of it. This is what the volleyball team and coaches did- especially Coach Bensend and senior Katie Lester. As the last volleyball game of the season- and Bensend’s last one before retirement- everyone was hyped. Lester got to take pictures with the varsity team and dressed up with a veil and flowers. The bleachers held people that knew Coach Bensend through the years, families there to celebrate the girls’ last game, and students who had come to cheer on their respective teams.
The energy was infectiously high as the varsity volleyball team walked onto their home court. The JV team had just finished their game and anticipating the next one. In the first set-a round in volleyball terms-Centennial’s score quickly served ahead of Heritage High School. Every time Centennial’s team would score, the audience would cheer. If Heritage got the point, the audience would shout encouraging things like “it’s okay!” and “you can get it next time!”
There were times when the ball would almost hit the ground, but it would pop up unexpectedly. During those times, the atmosphere would surge as the audience watched the ball go from one player to the next.
There was a lapse when Heritage caught up, but teamwork and skill managed to keep the home team’s score ahead. The first set ended with a score of 25-17 and the Titans winning.
The second set initiated with a switch of the court sides. The home team was losing for half of the set before managing to bounce back and tie. The rest of the set was both teams being only a few points ahead or behind with the final score being 22-25 and Heritage winning.
While it was very stressful for the coaches, they stayed focused and helped give feedback to the players. As coaches, they had to have fun while still focusing on the players.
The third set started close when some of the points were scored by freshman powerhouse hitters. The third set had some moments when the Titans were behind in the score, but they soon got close to Heritage’s score. The energy stayed consistent throughout whenever we scored. Heritage won 28-30, but the audience’s enthusiasm reached its climax in the final minutes of the set whenever either team scored. Many parents stood up or cheered with students and volleyball players. The phrase “the crowd goes wild” fully encapsulated this.
The fourth set started with the home team having two fouls and the visitor team having one foul. The energy was subdued because a couple parents of little kids had left. The volleyball players and students were tired since their throats needed a short break from cheering. Fortunately, the energy renewed halfway in as the two teams faced off. The Titans managed to catch up with the other team during then. Heritage won a close game at 23-25.
There was better energy in the fifth set, but it contrasted with the game’s long duration. It’s important to include that the players did their best. The varsity volleyball team was both exhausted but fulfilled by trying their hardest. The game ended 7-15 with the Titans losing.
Although the Titans lost the game in the end, the loss translated into a celebration with Bensend’s retirement ceremony. A ceremony was held for Coach Bensend’s retirement. The coaches all contributed to the celebration. Coach Pearce gave a heartfelt speech about Coach Bensend and what she meant to the program. Coach Hopper contributed a surprise video that was shared with the crowd and Bensend. The video was full of photos of Bensend with old players and footage from the season.
There was a table full of old photos of Bensend coaching volleyball from the past 40 years outside of the gym. It had a station that gave people an opportunity to write something kind, reminisce on old memories, and take a sweet treat.
Coach Bensend’s special guests, her old players, came down to the court to take a group photo. This photo showed years of players Bensend has coached and inspired over her 20 years at Centennial.