The Schofield Middle School volleyball team completed a perfect season Thursday. The Fighting Rams posted a 25-12, 25-17, 25-17 victory in the County Championship over rival Kennedy Middle School, completing a perfect 13-0 season.

“We've never won the County Championship,” said an elated Patrick Newsome, who's in his fifth year guiding the Schofield volleyball team. “This has been phenomenal. This has been one of the best groups I've ever had.”

Newsome spoke highly of his team because of its dominant performance on the court. He also referred to the way his players – 16 seventh- and eighth-graders – have rallied to support him. Newsome's father was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma in May and has spent most of the past four months in the hospital.

The players all wrote supportive letters to Newsome and baked him cookies and a cake. In the past few weeks, they started wearing lime green ribbons and socks to support the fight against lymphoma. Newsome said when his father learned of Thursday's result in his hospital room, it brought him to tears because he was so happy for the team.

The Rams played with a fighting spirit, using a series of scoring sprees to establish insurmountable leads over the Eagles (14-4). They did a tremendous job of covering the court, swarming to the ball and ensuring they did everything they could to keep it in play.

This, combined with an ability to avoid mis-hits or mistakes made Schofield tough – even for a tough Kennedy squad.

The Eagles were defending county champs and were the only team to win a game against the Rams this season. But the strong efforts of Ryerson Desmond, Caralynn Rodriguez and Natalie Bolen – among others – wasn't enough.

“We only lost two (games) all year, both were to Kennedy. We never beat them in three until tonight,” Newsome said. “Kennedy is a great team. I really respect them, and they played us tough all year.”

Abi Stewart, who missed the last contest with Kennedy because of an injury, led Schofield with 17 kills. Emma Bullington contributed 13 more for the Rams, who got six digs and six aces from Lexi Floyd's powerful, deep serves.

Katie Clamp had a team-best 12 assists for Schofield, with Payton Tyler close behind with 10. The team's libero, Madison Jones, was all over the floor and made contributions in every facet of the game, drawing high praise from her coach.

“She could play at a Division I school if she continues on this path,” Newsome said. “She's special.”

That all-around stellar play sparked major runs. In the first game, Schofield rallied from an early deficit with a 9-0 run. Overall, it won 14 of 15 points, enduring long rallies before finding a way to convert against Kennedy.

The Eagles played better in the second game, but were undone by the Rams' run at the end of the contest where they won 13 of the final 15 points. In the third game, Schofield struck early. It went on a 6-0 spurt and won 10 of 11 points during one stretch for an insurmountable lead that led to championship-clinching sweep.

Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than 14 years after graduating from Syracuse University.