Let me take you through the climax of a dramatic Tuesday night, when Waverly-Shell Rock volleyball was bounced from the Class 4A state tournament's first round in Cedar Rapids.
As soon as the volleyball landed on W-SR's side of the court, signaling West Delaware's 3-1 match victory, it took mere seconds for the Go-Hawks' raw emotions to pour out.
While the Hawks fans in orange and black bellowed boisterously, the Waverly-Shell Rock girls glanced at each other with wide eyes that would soon be filled with tears, no matter the resistance.
Senior Jazlyn Westmoreland immediately raised her hands to the back of her head, coming to grips with her new reality.
And after both teams met at the net and said "good game," the Go-Hawks were informed that, rather than retreating to their locker room, they were required to pose with their state-qualifying trophy in front of the hundreds of fans who packed the U.S. Cellular Center.
I'm not one to overdramatize a situation, but what came next was chilling. The Waverly-Shell Rock players stood together, stilled themselves, pulled back their tears and managed to smile and pose for a photo with their new hardware.
In my head, I couldn't help but think, "Why are the IGHSAU officials making them do this?"
Their season ended mere seconds earlier. After focusing so much energy on exacting revenge on a West Delaware team it lost to in the playoffs last year, the Go-Hawks instead fell to the Hawks a second year in a row.
Yet Waverly-Shell Rock displayed strength amidst defeat, stoicism after a shocking moment.
The pattern continued moments later, when head coach EaVon Woodin brought Westmoreland and senior Britney Young to the media room to talk to reporters.
It was easy to tell the two seniors would've rather not been there, and who can blame them? But they managed to answer questions anyway, which is no small thing.
Woodin, meanwhile, had an ear-to-ear smile as if she was the coach of the winning team.
She's been doing this for 39 years now. She's no stranger to tough losses, the same as she's no stranger to triumphant wins. Which is why she was able to have the perspective her players couldn't yet see.
"These are a good group of kids," Woodin said. "Eight seniors and they play well together, get along together. They had some good memories and have nothing to be ashamed of. They got beat by a good team."
So props to the Waverly-Shell Rock volleyball team for showing grace at a time when it was most difficult. I don't think I would have been able to do it half as well.