Dorman volleyball coach Paula Kirkland was considering retirement.
But the Cavaliers' 25-21, 25-21, 25-13 victory against Lexington for the Class 4A state championship at White Knoll High on Saturday changed her mind.
"I was telling them on the way here, one more before I retire, but you know what, I am having way too much fun," said Kirkland, whose Cavaliers finished 24-0.
It was Dorman's first appearance in the state final since 2005 and the program's first title since 2004.
"This right here can rejuvenate Dorman volleyball," Kirkland said.
Lexington coach Chee Lee hoped the match would be the beginning of an era for his team, too.
"This was a great experience for us, win or lose, and it's going to continue from here," Lee said.
In the program's first state final appearance, the Wildcats (20-2) got a strong start against the Cavaliers, who have won 10 titles since 1990. Lexington started with a 3-0 lead and later pulled ahead 15-10.
Kills from Kelsey Bagwell and Stephanie Palmer began to narrow the gap for Dorman. The Cavaliers' comeback was slow but steady, and they tied the score at 19 before finally pulling ahead to win the first game.
The key for Dorman was minimizing the impact of Lexington senior outside hitter Kellie Schmidt, who still managed 15 kills.
"We knew that we needed a strong presence at the front, whether it was against Kellie or somebody else," Kirkland said. "We knew that if we could influence balls at the net, it would make a big difference and our blocking really did help with that."
The second game started similar to the first, with Lexington opening with a 6-1 lead. This time the Cavaliers' rally was swift. With two 3-point runs, Dorman tied the score at 8.
The two teams traded points until the game was tied at 21, then Dorman earned the right to serve and finished the game on a four-point run.
With three- and six-point runs early in the third game, the Cavaliers built a lead the Wildcats could not overcome
"It was definitely a peak moment in my life, reaching the state championships with this group of girls," said Lexington senior Jennifer Hoppe, who finished with six kills and an assist. "Once we got here, we just played our hearts out, and I feel like that's the most we could have done."
Laura Grace Swindler led the Wildcats' with 21 assists and three digs.