By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
There were plenty of tears and hugs as the Stillwater High School volleyball team went through the pomp and circumstance of senior night.
But even on a night filled with emotions, all the four seniors wanted was to play the game they’ve been playing since they were little girls.
The end result? An almost surprising 3-0 win over Class 6A No. 5 Jenks Thursday at the Pioneer Fieldhouse.
“I knew it was possible that we would take a set off Jenks, but my girls were believing that a little bit more was possible,” Stillwater coach Jason Webber said. “They were a little bit more determined to prove more than what my simple beliefs were. They stepped in, took care of business and never let up.”
Led by seniors Morgan Wheatley and Maggie Ireton, who each tallied five kills, the Lady Pioneers (14-15) put all the emotions behind them and never flinched — even in the face of Jenks’ powerful attack.
“I knew that we could do it and we had all the energy to do it,” Wheatley said. “It was just a matter of execution and we did that so well. I was so proud.”
You’d think the pressure of facing a top five team in your last home match might cause that execution to falter a little, but that wasn’t the case in the first match.
Along with a couple of huge kills from Wheatley, senior Carley Geer’s ace helped the Lady Pioneers jump out to a 17-11 lead in the first set. Another ace by Ireton kept things rolling before Wheatley’s tip capped off a 25-18 win in the first set.
“I just wanted to go out in a way that everybody remembered me,” Wheatley said. “We were all really excited. We just wanted to go out with a bang and do our thing.”
Stillwater fell behind early in the second set, but even that couldn’t dampen the Lady Pioneers’ spirits. Carpenter’s ace evened the score at 19-19 before Ireton’s block ignited Stillwater once again to a 25-23 come-from-behind victory.
“All four (seniors) played very well,” Webber said. “It might have seen that the others didn’t, but Carley Geer passed one of the best nights that she’s had. Sarah Carpenter was instrumental for us. Her serve receive was probably the best it has been all year. They all stepped up their game for us.”
That second match win only added more gasoline to Stillwater’s fire and Jenks (18-11) never could come up with an answer.
The Lady Pioneers jumped out to a 15-8 lead in the third game after back-to-back kills by Wheatley. Another Ireton block looked like it might be the final push Stillwater needed to pick up the sweep, before Jenks came roaring back with a 8-2 run, forcing Webber to call a timeout.
“(Webber) told us to stay poised and we had to keep it together because we wanted to finish this,” Wheatley said. “He just told us to be smart and we listened to him.”
The pep talk proved to be beneficial as kills by Savannah Onley and Shelby Childers set off the official celebration while the four seniors finally exhaled after an exhausting three-game set.
“It was fun,” Webber said. “I enjoyed it, I loved it, but I think the key is that my girls are growing in the concept of working hard, sticking to the basics that they need to and getting better all the time at doing that.”
Carley Walstad finished with 25 assists, while Childers led the team with nine kills. Wheatley had seven kills and Ireton finished with five kills, two blocks and an ace.
Stillwater will cap off the regular season Tuesday against Owasso before beginning regionals Thursday. Webber said a win over Jenks should improve their chances of hosting a regional.