Victory Christian Celebrates Volleyball Title
By MIKE MOGUIN
STATE CHAMPIONS: Jaxie Wakley embraces the Class 5A state volleyball championship trophy along with her teammates after the Lady Conquerors beat Mt. St. Mary’s for the title.
Courtesy Victory Christian Athletic Department
Victory Christian overcame adversity to capture a state championship in volleyball back on Oct. 17 in Sapulpa. The Lady Conquerors were one point away from defeat three times and prevented it by scoring the point they needed. Eventually, they would score the points that would win the match.
Victory would win the Class 5A title, by beating Mount St. Mary, 3-2 (25-23, 11-25, 18-25, 25-21, 18-16). The championship was the second sports championship in school history. The first came from the boys’ basketball program in 2000.
The Lady Conquerors, ranked No. 5 throughout the year while finishing with a record of 29-10, won the first set of the match but had their backs up against the wall after dropping the next two. They bounced back to win the fourth. They fought off elimination in the last set with a combined seven kills by middle blockers Jaxie Wakley (sophomore) and Gem Summers (junior).
“We really had to come together,” Wakley says. “In the two sets we lost – two and three – we didn’t have the enthusiasm that we should have to win the game. Without enthusiasm, you won’t win. In the fourth and fifth set, we really had the enthusiasm to be able to win the game and get to a different level.”
“I felt proud of my team for winning, because we had never won a volleyball state championship and we’ve been to state ever since I’ve been here,” Summers says.
“It just felt very rewarding because we would practice hard every day, along with our conditioning,” Summers says.
Victory had been to the 4A state semi-finals the previous two years. The Lady Conquerors had used that fact in the offseason for motivation. The program has also been to state in volleyball for 14 of the past 15 years. It also played in the state championship game in 2007 and lost.
“Our players knew of that tradition and knew they could be the first team to win the whole thing. With that attitude, it drove them,” Victory coach Dan Donohue says. “That was neat to see as the coach.
Donohue became the head coach in 2006 and was an assistant for one year beforehand.
Victory had a tough stretch at the end of the regular season as it lost three of its last five games.
“Right before state, we had a losing streak. But, we pushed through it and worked it out,” Summers says.
Wakley and Summers led the Lady Conquerors in kills throughout the season. Wakley totaled 489 kills, an average of 4.6 per game, and 81 blocks. Summers produced 207 kills, with a hitting efficiency of 0.31, and 26 blocks. Ruthie Udoumoh was also a factor for Victory with 51 blocks.
While 25 points are needed to win a set, a team only needs to reach 15 if the match goes to a fifth set. But a two-point cushion is the minimum required to finish.
Three times Mt. St. Mary was one point away from taking the title with leads of 14-13, 15-14 and 16-15. In each instance, Victory prevented it by getting the point needed to keep the match going. They eventually got the points needed to finish it off, 18-16.
“I’m like, ‘okay, we need to get this right now. We can do it. Let’s just play smart defense. Let’s be the best we can be,’” Wakley says.
Wakley and Summers combined seven kills in the final set.
“We had to take advantage of it,” Wakley says. “We couldn’t be on our heels. We had to attack. They had it three times. We had to take advantage of this one time and just put the ball down or just play smart and let them make the mistake.”
“Fighting off the three match points, they never panicked,” Donohue says. “They never looked worried. It’s like, ‘okay, we’re going to get the next point. We’re going to eventually get this.’ Just that resolve to carry us through the rough spots, and it carried us through to win the thing.”
“When we came back to school, everybody was congratulating us, and it was just good knowing that it was a big deal to everybody for winning a second championship at the school,” Summer says.
The girls were recognized and honored the following Sunday during a service at the church, Victory Christian Center, which is connected to the school.
“I liked it,” Summers says. “It was nice, because it was not only people from our school that go to the church. It was like a community congratulating us on the way.”
Victory only loses one senior, Olivia Stenzel, to graduation. Wakley, Summers, Udoumoh and the rest of the team will be back next year.
“We are a very young team, and we have got a great opportunity for the next couple of years to carry through and gain a couple of more titles,” Donohue says. “This team has been so determined. The spot in the middle of the season where we didn’t play so well almost served as a good thing for us. They used that to drive themselves to get better and carry us to the state tournament.”