The ultimate prize stood there all season long, patiently waiting for the Lowcountry Blacktips to reach out and grab it.
The volleyball club team eventually did so, earning a bid to the Girls Junior National Championships in Dallas by virtue of its victory this March in the silver division at the USA Volleyball Palmetto Region Championship in Charlotte.
"All season this was our goal," said Jessica Howard, coach of the Lowcountry Blacktips' 17 National team. "It was a goal that was so far away, so it was such a great moment for all of them to be able to reach that goal, to be able to say that we've made it to nationals."
The Blacktips have their invitation. Now the only problem is getting there.
The team will hold a fundraiser Thursday night at Bluffton High School, where the group will face off against the Sun City Volleyball Club from 6:30 to 7:30. Admission is free but donations are encouraged.
Howard estimates that it will cost roughly $1,500 per player to make the week-long trip to Texas, where competition will be held at the Dallas Convention Center from June 28 to July 5.
But the opportunities awaiting each player will have a long-lasting impact on their volleyball careers, which makes the high cost worth it, Howard said.
"This will be a great experience for them," she said. "It will be a college resume booster. Any colleges looking at them, if they see that they've played at the level of nationals, that'll be huge for them."
Four girls from Hilton Head Island High School, three more from Bluffton High and another from Savannah Christian Prep form this year's team. Sierra Davis, Brantley Herrington, Hannah Edelman and Mallory Lewis all represent the Seahawks while Jordan Franklin, Mackenzie Cooler and Haley Kohler are Bobcats. Cameron Dean is the lone player from Savannah.
The group has taken part in several fundraisers to help offset the cost of the trip, including a recent stop at Moe's Southwest Grill last week. Thursday night's matchup with Sun City is a different challenge.
"I think they're going to be maybe shocked that older people still play volleyball, to be honest," Howard said, laughing.
Lowcountry Blacktips vs. Sun City Volleyball Club
What: Fundraiser to send the Lowcountry Blacktips' 17 National volleyball club team, to the Girls Junior National Championships in Dallas from June 28 to July 5.
Where: Bluffton High School
When: 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday
Admission: Free, but donations are encouraged.
How to contribute: Those interested can also support the team by sending checks to the Lowcountry Volleyball Club at 231 Station Parkway, Bluffton, S.C., 29910