The young female student-athletes entered the gymnasium Friday night as Royals and left as centurions.

The South Hope Christian School volleyball team earned its 100th straight match victory Friday as the Royals defeated the Madison Fellowship Flames.

In their small school gym in front of the usual enthusiastic, jammed-packed crowd, the Royals upended their guests 25-6 and 25-12 in the best-of-three matches. It was the hosts’ 12th and final regular-season match.

Now it is onto the Athletics for Christian Education League playoffs for the five-time defending state champion Royals.

The streak started in 2005 and, six seasons, five straight state championships, and not a single loss later, the Royals reached the 100th victory mark. Also, since 1997 the team has either won or placed second in the state championship.

South Hope, coached by Fawn Adolphsen, include Marina Adolphsen, Shachia Harvey, Nona Harvey, Gina Harvey, Savana Adolphsen, Taylor Brown, Tanya Brown, Shianne Wadsworth, Darcy Finnemore and Kaytlin Kee.

The teams played a third, unofficial game, which the Flames won 25-15.

South Hope will play Oxford Hills on Saturday, Feb. 19 at 1 p.m. at Calvary Baptist Church in Turner in the quarterfinals of the playoffs.

The top four teams in each division qualify for the postseason. No. 1 North South Hope plays No. 4 South Oxford Hills, for the example, as the pairings crosscross. The semifinals will be Friday and Saturday, Feb. 25 and 26 at Lisbon Falls and Turner. The finals will be Saturday, March 5 at Turner.

“It’s really surreal. It doesn’t feel real at all,” said Finnemore about the amazing streak. “I kind of want to cry but it’s awesome, this hasn’t been done in our league ever and we set the record last year and now we set the standard really high for any team in the league.”

Tanya Brown hit the milestone streak-clinching shot with an untouched volley to center court. ”It has to go,” she said she thought during the shot. “If we win this I will probably cry.”

Even though she held her tears, Brown was excited and proud. “Everybody on the team has played a major part and I just feel really blessed that I was able to be a part of it.”

“It’s amazing, its like you won the championship before you even got to the championship,” said senior Kee, who has been on the team for six years and all 100 winning games.

Strangely, the team did not notice the streak until last year, when they noticed they had 88 straight wins “and we were like, ‘Wow, we can go all the way. Why don’t we just set a record, break it and set a new one’ ” Kee said. “It’s what we have been looking forward to all year. We haven’t been talking about the championship we have been talking about our 100th [straight win]. The last year for the seniors and the school and it’s very emotional and exciting.”

The milestone was bittersweet because the South Hope Christian School will close. The 37-year-old school will close its doors in June due to declining enrollment. The school has 25 students.

Despite the school’s future, the Royals’ coach certainly was excited about the streak.

“[I am] very proud of these girls,” said coach Fawn Adolphsen, who has two daughters on the team. “If you saw how hard they worked, you’d know why they win games. I mean when they hit the floor it’s 100 percent and they love the game.”

However, the streak was not just due to coach Adolphsen. Former Royals coach Charles Martz bought the team up to 58 straight wins before coach Adolphsen took over.

“It’s exciting, but I have to say what someone started is just getting finished,” Adolphsen said. “I gotta to give most of my credit to Charlie. That’s where it started and I’m just finishing it up.”

Martz attended the game and was pleased to see his former team come full circle.

“We just put a program together and we had a lot of good girls to work with and I just pushed them to be the best every time we come out here to play,” he said.

“I’m pretty proud of the girls and the whole process,” Martz said. “I mean I didn’t ever think it would get to that, but it’s amazing and I’m pretty proud of them. It shows that good, hard work, and if you put the time in, it pays off.”

“I have to thank both coaches for helping us get this far and they just listened to us and they take our opinions and they do what is right and we have had hard times, but we just pull it together and it’s amazing,” Kee said.

Dedication is something the team seems to have in reserve. Talking to both coaches and various players it becomes obvious the Royals’ love and devotion for the sport is a key to their success.

“I know a lot of schools the kids are trying to get out of practice, these kids are pushing for practice,” coach Adolphsen said. “If I had five practices a week they would all show up and they would play and they would kill themselves for the ball.”

“The girls know that if you are going to come out on the floor and practice, if you cant give it your all then you shouldn’t be on the court,” the coach said. “It’s got to be all or nothing.”

Martz echoed those thoughts and said he used to study his opponents’ and own team’s weaknesses and “practiced relentless to make them right.”

“We have an amazing team,” said Kee. “All the girls want to play volleyball 24/7 and because of that they are willing to change things about their game to make it better and willing to give up something’s in order to get points.”

It doesn’t hurt either that some of the girls have played together for longer than the conventional four years. The team experience is especially an edge in volleyball where the team moves as a unit on the court.

“It’s almost like each one of them has a little string hooked to them and when one moves it makes everybody shift,” said coach Adolphsen, “and when you are a team that’s been together for such a long time you’ll shift because you know each other so well. You know before they even do it.”

Now it is on to the playoffs and if the Royals continue their streak they will end the season, and their legacy, 103-0 — with six straight championships. That is quite a legacy for a small Christian School off Route 17 in South Hope.

Village NetMedia Sports Reporter Frederick Freudenberger can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at fritz@villagesoup.com.