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Valdosta State Lady Blazers look to make history

Posted at 12:12 AM, Mar 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 00:12:02-04

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — When the clock hit zero in Monday's South Region Championship game, the Valdosta State women's basketball team sealed up their first appearance in the quarterfinals, or the Elite Eight, of the NCAA Division II Tournament since 1984.

Winning is the standard at Valdosta State, and it's what head coach Deandra Schirmer promised from day one.

"My first day on the job here at Valdosta State was when they were doing the ring ceremony for the football national championship," she remembers.

Talk about an introduction to Titletown.

"We know how much is means to this community, and we want to do it for them."

The Valdosta State women's basketball team is back in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Tournament for the first time in nearly four decades, but for Schirmer, this has been a goal since day one.

"I think on my interview, I got a few crazy looks when I said I'm here to win a national championship," she laughed.

It's a mindset bought in to by her team.

"From that very first day that I met her, her and I have always talked about winning a National Championship," said graduate student Delaney Bernard.

"You're the average of the five people you're around," added fellow graduate student Nicole Heyn. "That expectation, that culture, you want to be that. You don't want to be the disappointment."

A culture this team wants to continue to represent.

"The fact that it's the first time in 38 years that we've made it this far and we want more is a really big tribute to the mentality of everybody on this team," said Bernard.

"We're not done yet," added Schirmer. "That's been the message this week. We're not done yet."

Three wins to history.

"Chasing history is something people really never get to experience, so we just want to take advantage of it," said Heyn.

Take advantage of the moment, and celebrate, with a ring of their own. Valdosta State faces Western Washington in the Elite Eight Monday night, 9:30 tip in Birmingham, Alabama.