Tuesday Time Capsule: 2008 Unity volleyball team

Tuesday Time Capsule: 2008 Unity volleyball team

Each week, preps coordinator COLIN LIKAS will recall a local high school sports anniversary worth remembering. For this first-ever edition, he caught up with former Unity volleyball coach Kristy Duncan — now in her fifth season helming the Illinois College volleyball program — 10 years after the Rockets nearly won a state championship:

My initial message to you about this "brought back some fond memories," as you responded.

That was a really exciting time. Maybe a week out from the end of the regular season, we were two matches over .500. That's what made it even more exciting. We just went on a run to end the season. We couldn't have gotten hotter at a better time.

The state tournament recently had been altered — from two classes to four, and from eight teams per class to four. Did that change the team's mindset entering the Class 2A postseason?

In retrospect, you think about that a little bit more. At the time, we just kept saying, "Play like it's your last match because tomorrow isn't promised." We wanted to keep playing. We didn't want to focus on the fact that four teams made it. But looking at it after, it's an even bigger accomplishment.

When did it become apparent this team could win a state title?

After we won the regional and were going through the sectional, we felt pretty good. We got into the super-sectional and fought off a couple match points to end up winning. When you can fight off match points and show that kind of heart, you know you're going to win that match.

What do you remember most about the 2008 state tournament?

The week leading up was just a blur. A lot of people were reaching out to us and talking to us. At some point I had to remind them it's great to be there, but now we want to bring home some hardware.

Unity defeated Princeton in the semifinals before falling to Freeburg in the championship match. Was there a defining moment from those two matches?

I just remember (the girls) being really aggressive and just celebrating everything ... even more than usual. When individuals were accepting their medals, I can remember Bethany Billman raising both arms in the air, and you would've thought we won a state championship. They were so proud of themselves.

Do you think about that season often today?

I'll hear a song that reminds me of the state tournament or different things like that. Two of the big ones were "Womanizer" by Britney Spears and "Don't Stop Believin'." We played that one a million times.