The scene, which unfolds itself at various points each and every year, was on full display Feb. 12 at St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School.
The Bears and Lively Hawks battled in the senior girls volleyball Division "B" semifinal, with the winner earning a date in the championship affair opposite the Chelmsford Flyers.
A see-saw encounter that seemed likely never to end finally drew to a close after five excruciatingly close sets, as Lively prevailed 23-25, 25-23, 27-25, 19-25, 20-18.
“This is so surreal,” said senior Katrina Makitalo, trying hard to hide the glimmers of tears of joy. “We've never made it this far.”
With a boys' playoff basketball game (Sacré-Coeur vs. St Benedict) on hold until matters were settled with the young ladies, there was an air of tension that mounted gradually throughout the evening.
“We were trying so hard not to panic,” said Makitalo. “I had to sing in my head to kind of calm myself. I was doing some finger thing that I've never done before and sweeping my feet.”
In fact, after some prompting, Makitalo admitted somewhat sheepishly to replaying, “I Want to be Loved by You” (Marilyn Monroe) quietly in her mind throughout much of the fifth set.
“It helped me get my serves over,” she said with a smile.
Indeed, the strategy seemed to work. The Bears had looked impressive in taking the fourth set with the largest margin of the night and then jumping out to an 11-5 lead in the fifth and deciding set.
But key plays abounded on both sides of the net, with frantic fans teetering nervously on the edge of their seats. Even the “boys in waiting,” preparing to partake in some drama of their own, were more than willing participants to the nerve-racking situation that was unfolding.
For the upstart Hawks and their lineup of just eight bodies last night, the triumph provided a wonderful peak to a season that has been a whole lot of fun.
“It's a fun team,” said Makitalo. “We can laugh at our mistakes and sometimes keep each other calm when we're not panicking. A lot of the year we were winging it because we didn't have a formal coach.”
In fact, current student Josh Desjardins provided in-season guidance with former Hawk Milo Gaudin and his father stepping in to provide a helping hand.
If nothing else, the game will provide a memory to be cherished for quite some time for the young ladies from Lively District Secondary School who will finish no worse than second this year.