By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Coming off a tough five-set loss to Bartlesville and an even tougher practice on Wednesday, Stillwater High School volleyball coach Jason Webber wondered how much was left in the team’s tank.
It turns out there was perhaps a little bit more than he expected as the Lady Pioneers swept Enid 3-0 Thursday at the Pioneer Fieldhouse.
“It was a good step,” Webber said. “We had a difficult practice, but a very rewarding practice in realizing the things that we want to do. The girls did a great job of incorporating those principles into (Thursday’s) game.”
Still adapting, Stillwater (6-6) wasn’t without its struggles from time to time — but those struggles were few and far between as the Lady Pioneer front line of Sarah Carpenter, Shelby Childers and Katie Ray never really gave the Pacers (10-7) much of a chance, winning 25-21, 25-14, 25-22.
“We were really strong tonight,” Childers said. “Everyone was really wanting to win this one and we just played really great.”
The Lady Pioneers struggles began early as they dropped the first four points of the match to spot Enid an early lead. But that deficit didn’t last for long as Stillwater came roaring back to take a 17-11 lead at one point.
Enid did try to make a comeback late in the game, closing the gap to 23-20 with an ace by McKenna James, but back-to-back kills by Maggie Ireton and Lauren Gattis sealed a 25-21 victory in the first game.
“It was just nerves that first game,” Childers said. “Once we got that first point out of the way, we started to get running and we were right back in it.”
Stillwater’s dominance continued in the second game as a pair of aces by Childers three kills by Carpenter ignited the Lady Pioneers offense and paved the way for a 25-14 blowout in the second game.
“We were basically very interested in playing our game and doing the things that we needed to do,” Webber said. “We probably caught them a little off guard a few times. We also figured out what their weakness are and exploited those, and it turned in our favor.”
Enid didn’t go down without a fight in the third match. Each time Stillwater got any sort of advantage, the Pacers somehow clawed their way back into the game — closing the gap to one, 21-20 after a kill by Chloe Cordell.
Again, the Lady Pioneers would bend but refused to break as a pair of kills and a couple of defensive breakdowns turned into a 25-22 victory in the third game as Stillwater completed the sweep.
“It was good that they stayed focused because we have failed at that in the past,” Webber said. “It was neat to have just a little bit more focus to get the job done.”
“We just fought harder than them,” Childers said. “We just wanted it more. I don’t know any other way to explain it.”
Carpenter led the team with nine kills and an ace, while Childers tallied six kills and two aces. Carley Walstad had 28 assists and two aces as well for the Lady Pioneers.
The road doesn’t get much easier for the Lady Pioneers. After snapping their two-game losing streak against Enid, Stillwater hopes to carry that momentum into the tournament at Bishop Kelley, which starts Friday.
“We’re going to take what we’ve been working on in practice and continue to hone those skills so that we can generate more quality rallies, more points and ultimately more wins,” Webber said. “Nobody knows if this win will help or not. It was a good match, but it takes a lot of energy to play three days in a row. A lot of it will depend on how well our girls recover and how well they get out of the gate.”