By Kyle LoJacono
The Steinbrenner volleyball team completed its fourth straight perfect regular season in district play with a 25-10, 25-10, 19-25, 25-6 win at home against Gaither Oct. 10.
The win also moves the Warriors’ (14-7, 4-0) all-time record against district opponents to 30-0, but the Cowboys (6-12, 0-4) were able to take a set, which is only the second Steinbrenner has lost to a league opponent ever.
“We definitely could have played at a much high caliber,” said senior outside hitter Madison Seuzeneau. “We laid down in the third set and said we’ve got this in the bag. We can’t do that. We need to push forward until the end of the match.”
Seuzeneau said it’s a good lesson for the team as the Class 7A-District 9 tournament approaches.
“I think we kind of underestimate our district,” Seuzeneau said. “I know we’ve won our district pretty handily every year, but we can’t just lie down and pretend like we’ve already won districts. We have to keep pushing through all of the games to take the title.”
First-year Warriors coach Laura Stegenga elected to go with reserves in the third set to get those players some court time. She also did not take a timeout despite her team having a lead for only four plays in the third.
“I wanted them to play it out and see what they could do without me sitting in their ear,” Stegenga said. “As we progress and we get into hard competition they’re going to have to get themselves out of funks, so I wanted to give them the opportunity to see what they can do.”
Stegenga didn’t have to say much between the third and fourth sets.
“I basically just asked them if that was their best performance in the previous game,” Stegenga said. “They told me no, and they all agreed to change it. I think they saw the look on my face, and they just got to work.”
After falling behind 1-3 in the fourth, Steinbrenner ran off 24 of the last 27 points. Sophomore middle hitter Ryann Martin ended the match with her fifth kill of the contest.
“I was feeling a lot of energy in that last game,” Martin said. “When we have that kind of intensity I think we can beat anyone.”
Seuzeneau and junior outside hitter Rachel Mathison each had 11 kills. Mathison also recorded eight digs, and Seuzeneau added six.
Sophomore middle hitter Lauren Heldt added five kills and four blocks, while senior outside hitter Kayla Shaw recorded four kills and five digs.
Senior libero Natalia Campos had 12 digs and seven aces, and sophomore setter Brooke Royals had 32 assists.
Junior Casey McLean, who is generally the Warriors starting setter, played the majority of the match as defensive specialist on the backrow. She racked up seven digs and four aces.
Gaither junior outside hitter Hanna Kelley had 11 kills, 10 digs and three aces.
The Warriors travel to Bloomingdale Oct. 16 and host Durant Oct. 17 for the regular season finale. Both contests start at 7 p.m.
The 7A-9 tournament is at Gaither Oct. 22 to 25, with the championship match Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.
—Follow Kyle LoJacono on Twitter: @Kyle_Laker