ADAMS County was represented well last weekend at the Illinois High School Association state volleyball tournament at Redbird Arena in Normal.
Payson Seymour more than lived up to preseason expectations to cap a remarkable season by beating Windsor/Stewardson-Strasburg in straight sets in the Class 1A championship match, earning the school its first team state title in any sport.
The Indians won 41 of 42 matches, tying for the best season record in state history for a Class 1A school since Illinois went to a four-class system in 2007. They lost just three out of the 85 sets played; kept their opponents under 20 points in a set 68 times; and were pushed to a third set only once, by Hannibal on Sept. 5.
In a word, they were dominating. And now, after winning 72 of 79 matches the past two seasons, they're deserving state champions.
Payson Seymour also was one of the state's top teams in 2016, but the Indians lost to eventual state champion West Prairie in the regional. The players will tell you the difference between this year's team and last year's was mental.
"Last year, we coasted on our talent," senior Melina Tedrow said. "We have phenomenal talent, but we secured more wins and a state championship because of the mental toughness that Coach (Teresa Loos-Tedrow) has put us through."
Meanwhile, Quincy Notre Dame came within an eyelash of earning its fifth state volleyball championship in Class 2A, falling 25-18, 19-25, 21-25 to Champaign St. Thomas More in a tense title match.
Instead, the Raiders, playing in the championship match for the sixth time since 1998, settled for the fifth second-place trophy in school history. Unlike Payson Seymour, a state tournament berth was not preordained for QND, especially after a three-set loss to crosstown rival Quincy High School and a revamped lineup in mid-October.
Yet improbable victories in the sectional and super-sectional rounds propelled the Raiders to the state tournament for the 14th time since 1977.
After defeating Newton in the semifinals, the Raiders won the first set and were just four points away from shocking St. Thomas More, which had considerably more size than QND. The Sabers' lineup included two NCAA Division I-bound volleyball players, plus an all-state high jumper and an NCAA Division I-bound basketball player.
Yet a ball that trickled along the tape of the net and fell on the Raiders' side of the floor turned out to be the difference.
Clearly, it was a weekend to remember for two high school teams that made Adams County proud.