MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s hard enough being in high school. And then losing someone you love can make it seem impossible.

But one high school student has taken that terrible loss and turned into something special.

The Southwest Christian Academy volleyball team has lost a lot this year.

A brother of a player. The sister of a coach, and the father — and biggest fan — of a player.

But those losses couldn’t keep the squad from the state volleyball tournament.

In just three months, 11th grader Abby Vandergalien has seen the very best.

“This (the state tournament) is like the coolest thing ever,” she said.

And the very worst of what life can bring.

“I wish he was here, really bad,” she said.

Her father, Glenn Vandergalien, was a force off the court. He was 6-foot, 6-inches tall, loud, and never missed a game.

“I often didn’t sit by him because I wasn’t sure how crazy he’d get,” said wife Teresa.

He died of a heart attack on his 28th wedding anniversary back in August, right before the start of his daughter’s volleyball season.

He motto was always: Be Amazing.

That’s something Abby’s teammates thought would be perfect for their warm-up shirts.

“Every day I see the slogan,” Abby said. “He’s still with me. He wants me to be amazing. I want to do it for him, for my teammates, for my coach.”

And that’s exactly what she did. Abby’s coach, teammates and mother say she’s playing better than ever.

The team made the state championships the day before her dad’s birthday. The team plays at 1 p.m. Saturday for the state title.

“Just very proud of her,” Teresa said. “Because she has persevered. It’s hard to get out there on the volleyball court and do what shes done this year.”