Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are those purely of the individual writing them, and do not in any way constitute an official stance or opinion of either Gatehouse Media, or the Dodge City Daily Globe.
For all the excitement Spearville fans felt after the Lancers won the Southern Plains - Iroquois Activities Association league tournament Saturday night, that victory was not actually the best moment of the tournament.
That came about three hours prior, around 3 p.m. as pool play was finishing up for the highest seeds in the tournament.
As Spearville narrowly finished off Pawnee Heights with a three set victory on one of the courts in the main gym at Kiowa County High School, all eyes turned to the drama unfolding on the adjacent court.
There, two volleyball titans of southwest Kansas were engaged in a physical and mental war of attrition.
Kiowa County, the tournament host and a team that made it to the 2A State Tournament last year, was down one set to none in a best-of-three match against tournament No. 2 seed and 2017 1A Div. I State runners-up South Central.
A loss in the set meant the end of the match.
Yet Kiowa County was holding their own, and South Central was refusing to let them off the hook.
Everyone in the stands, whose focus gradually turned from the end of the Spearville match to the end of the second set in the remaining one, knew one team would eventually lose the set.
Yet both were refusing.
What ensued was one of the most captivating displays of heart that many present will ever see.
Kiowa County and South Central battled back and forth. In high school volleyball, the first team to score 25 points usually wins, but a team has to win by two.
So fans, media members, school staffs, other teams and their coaches and off-duty officials waiting for their matches all watched the south court of the Main Gym in awe, sometimes laughing at the brilliance of it, other times gasping at a service error before breathing heavily as the other team made a mistake that prolonged the set.
One team scored, then the other, the maybe the second team again followed by the first.
The typical 25 points weren’t enough to win. Neither was 26. Neither was 27.
When it was all over 28 was the score, not of the team that won the set, but of the team that was unable to.
Kiowa County beat South Central in the second set by a score of 30-28. That was followed up by another victory by Kiowa County in the third set, securing the match.
These are the moments we who watch sports live for: The moments when two great teams have played their bodies to exhaustion but have conditioned their minds so it has become impossible for them to quit.
In these moments that the four-letter word meaning “to be unsuccessful” is by necessity forgotten into nonexistence.
South Central may have had to lose the match for Kiowa County to win, and Kiowa County the final match for someone else to win, but neither of those teams were unsuccessful, regardless of what the scoreboard said.
What those amazing athletes did in that second set was something much more important both to themselves and those who watched.
Those players showed they understand what it means to have heart.
And that is something nobody who watched will likely every forget.
To contact the writer, email Shelton Burch at email@example.com