For a moment, T.C. Williams sophomore Milan Rex was scared. The Titans were trailing Kellam two sets to one in the Virginia Class 6 championship Friday in Alexandria, and the chance at a perfect season seemed to be fading.
Coach A.J. DeSain reminded the Titans they belonged in this moment, enabling Rex to lock in. She then powered T.C. Williams to a 23-25, 25-19, 18-25, 25-19, 17-15 victory — the program’s first state title.
“I have one job, and that is to get the ball over the net,” Rex said. “It was the last game of the season, and I had to give it my all.”
Whether Rex was forcefully knocking the ball past the Knights or making timely digs, she provided momentum for the Titans, particularly when they trailed in sets.
“She was outstanding tonight. A performance worthy of a state champion,” DeSain said. “In the first set when we were down, she sparked a run with her huge serving, even though we didn’t win the set.”
In the second set, Floyd Kellam (10-3) held a 13-11 advantage before the Titans rallied to even the match at 1.
The Knights’ outside hitters, Sarah Thompson and Jessica George, relentlessly smacked the ball through T.C. Williams’s defense in the third set to take a 2-1 lead and put Kellam on the cusp of a second straight state championship.
T.C. Williams played its best in the fourth set, jumping out to a 15-5 lead. Though the Knights cut the deficit to 18-13, Rex showcased her offensive prowess and delivered a set-clinching kill to send the match into a fifth set.
“For this group, it hasn’t occurred to them that losing is an option,” DeSain said. “They found a way every single time, whether we had our whole team or we were missing our best players.”
T.C. Williams was resilient all season, battling constant lineup changes as players missed games on a weekly basis because of a competing club volleyball season. The Titans showed resilience again late in the match, overcoming a 7-3 deficit in the fifth set to cement their names in program history.
“I’m on cloud nine right now,” DeSain said. “To watch them make the comeback they did in the fifth set, there aren’t words to explain it.”