The pursuit of a goal six years in the making will be realized Friday afternoon in Bixby.
When Janet Brannon became the Southmoore volleyball coach, she immediately began building a program that would last. She began with a youth league, a summer club team and junior-high ball.
Those seventh-graders that joined back then are seniors now — and they're taking the SaberCats to the state tournament, not only for the first time in school history, but school district history.
No other Moore school has been to state in volleyball, but that string ends at 4:30 p.m. Friday, when Southmoore meets Edmond North in the final match of the first round of the Class 6A tournament. Bixby High School hosts the two-day tournament, which begins at noon Friday.
“It's been amazing to see,” Brannon said of her program's growth over the last six years. “These seniors have been part of the process from the very beginning, playing youth league together and going into junior high.
“All four of our seniors have been starters on varsity at some point.”
The SaberCats have been a fringe top-10 team the last few seasons, but finally broke through this year, and it was the leadership of those four seniors — Brianna Ruby, Carly Fuget, Amy Serowski and Micayla Payne — that helped put them over the top.
They instituted team lunches on game days, team meals at a player's home throughout the week, and group Bible study for any players who wanted to attend.
Their “Together” theme through the off-court activities has fostered their on-court bond.
“We learned through club and school ball that if you're not a close team, then you won't have good chemistry on the court,” Serowski said. “We really wanted to push that idea this year, always being together, being more like a family than a team.
“When we're on the court, we can play well and mix well and not take offense to anything anybody says.”
The SaberCats know they've got a tough test ahead against No. 2 Edmond North on Friday, and they're fully focused on pulling the upset. But they're not forgetting to enjoy the journey, too.
“I didn't even know anything about volleyball six years ago,” Payne said. “I just thought it was on the beach. But Moore as a whole is starting to develop programs that are beating teams we're not supposed to beat. We're working hard to try to defeat the top teams.
“Our key this week will be team work and execution. Teamwork is about having fun, and execution is just making less mistakes than the team on the other side. This is one of those dreams you look forward to, and we're actually going to live it.”