At 15-0, Jade Ware began to realize where Friday’s second game against Southfield might be headed.
At 20-0, her Southfield volleyball coach Dana Cooper did too.
At 23-0, the Bluejays’ fans were about the boil over. Two points later, they did.
No category exists in the MHSAA volleyball record book for consecutive points served. But it’s fair to say few if any have accomplished what Ware did during her team’s District final win – serve all 25 points, without stop, in her team’s shutout victory in the second game.
“The day of, I got a little nervous about the game. I told my team I’d never been so nervous, and they told me it’s a good thing. It means I was going to do something good today,” Ware said. “Everybody made such a big deal of the game (going in). ... I put so much pressure on myself the day of. People were coming up to me (saying), ‘Are you ready? Are you ready?’
“After the first couple of balls go over, it all goes away.”
The Bluejays had outlasted Berkley 25-20 in the match’s first game when Ware began serving the second. The 25-0 win gave her team a 2-0 advantage. Berkley served to start the third game, but Southfield scored the first point. Ware then served the next five points of that game too as the Bluejays went on to finish the victory 25-19.
The win gave Southfield its fifth-straight District championship and advanced the Bluejays to this week’s regional at Lake Orion. Southfield won the first four of those District titles under coach Alisha Love, who stepped down after last season. Dana Cooper took over this fall, and during an early October practice began teaching Ware her new game serve – a jump serve with top spin.
“I knew she had the power to do a jump. She mastered it almost immediately,” Cooper said. “There’s so much top spin on it, some of her balls fall just on the other side of the net.”
“Correctly? I just started doing it a month ago. That’s why I was so amazed,” Ware added.
Ware totaled 13 aces over the three games, tying her for 14th on the MHSAA list for a best-of-five match. She also had 12 digs, and set up teammate Cassadine Reed for the winning kill in that second game. Ware, both a hitter and a setter (the latter along with senior Nicole Rashleigh) in Southfield’s offense, had the match-winning kill in the third.
Hitting is Ware's favorite volleyball skill, although she said she loves how an ace helps her team. She’d hit strings of five good serves in a row leading up to Friday, but that night was the first time her serve had been so consistent over the course of an entire match.
“The only time I’d smile was after an ace or a kill,” Ware said. “I guess I was in my zone. Nothing was getting to me.”
(Photos courtesy of Terry McNamara Photography and the Ware family.)