By Kyle LoJacono
The Steinbrenner volleyball team swept Seminole 25-15, 25-16, 25-18 in the regional quarterfinals on Nov. 1, but the Warriors were not pleased with the straight-set victory.
“We were a little slow coming out to start,” said Steinbrenner coach Jennifer Graham. “They graded themselves a C-. There were just a lot of small errors here and there, and at this point we can’t be making those errors.
“Overall a win is a win and it’s great to win,” Graham continued. “We have to get better because we’re going to play better and better teams coming up, so it’s just going to get harder for us. We have to come out of the gate faster is the bottom line.”
Errors committed by the Warriors (24-4) let the Warhawks (13-11) hang in the match. Steinbrenner saw a 20-7 third-set lead shrink to 23-16 and 24-18 before sophomore rightside hitter Rachel Mathison put an end to Seminole’s season with her fifth kill of the match.
The Warriors’ serving game, which is usually their strength, was off by their standards.
“The serves weren’t always going where we wanted them to,” Graham said. “That becomes frustrating because we can do it, we just weren’t. Those are things that can be fixed. Some errors are good errors though. If we’re serving aggressive and it’s a foot out of the back wall then it’s a great serve as long as it’s not four or five.”
Freshman middle hitter Lauren Heldt brought some normalcy to Steinbrenner’s serving when she recorded seven of her team-high eight aces on one rotation.
“I’ve never had that many all together like that before,” Heldt said. “I was trying to get it to certain spots and it dropped in. … Our serving has been key for us all year. It’s our top priority. The better we serve, the better our whole game is. If you’re not serving, you can’t play this game.”
Graham said Heldt tends to get aces in bunches.
“And it usually ends with an aggressive miss,” Graham said. “She’s just got a great snap and it’s a really hard ball to read. I would hate to be serve receiving against it. We look forward to her jump serving eventually, which will be a real threat.”
It was also fun for Heldt’s teammates to watch her go on her run of aces.
“It was absolutely amazing,” said junior outside hitter Madison Seuzeneau. “I was jumping up and down after every ace.”
The Warrior frontline attack was led by Seuzeneau for the second straight match. She had a career-high 15 kills in a victory against Freedom in the district finals on Oct. 27 and broke her own mark with 18 put down on the Warhawks.
Graham said Seuzeneau has become a more consistent player the second half of this season.
“She’s peaking at the right time,” Graham said. She then added, “I’ve been working with her for three years straight now with playing smart, hitting smart shots. Defensively we’re working on getting her there. Right now she’s just playing front row and eventually we’d like to be able to play her all the way around.”
Steinbrenner senior outside hitter Miranda Powell posted six kills. Junior middle hitter Baylee Hooker added six kills of her own while adding two blocks. Sophomore setter Casey McLean recorded 37 assists in just three sets.
Seminole was without 6-foot-2 Marissa Lisenbee, who had a team-high 324 kills and 118 blocks this season. She received a red card during the district tournament and was ineligible to play.
The Warriors host Clearwater in the regional semifinals on Tuesday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. The Tornadoes defeated Freedom 25-12, 25-22, 23-25, 25-18 on Nov. 1.
Steinbrenner defeated Clearwater 29-27, 30-28, 15-7 this season during a tournament in Gainesville.
‘Canes win first regional match
The Bishop McLaughlin volleyball team went out and swept Lakeland McKeel Academy on Nov. 1 despite playing in its first playoff match in program history.
The Hurricanes (16-8) swept the road match 25-14, 25-17, 25-20. Senior outside hitter Jess Johnson had a team-high 15 kills in the contest.
Bishop McLaughlin’s win sets up a rematch of the Class 3A-District 8 finals against Tampa Prep, which the Terrapins won 25-10, 25-21, 25-4.
The Hurricanes travel to Tampa Prep for the regional semifinal match on Tuesday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m.
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