By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
After all the hours of practice and sweat, it wasn’t supposed to be this easy. But for the first time in three years the Stillwater High School volleyball team can say its going to the state tournament.
Stillwater defeated Norman North 3-0 (25-12, 25-21, 25-10) in the regional championship Thursday at the Pioneer Fieldhouse to clinch its first berth in the state tournament since 2009.
“It was amazing,” Stillwater senior co-captain Tessa Meeks said. “I don’t think we’ve ever played together like that as a team. Everybody did their part and then some.”
The celebration began as soon as senior Kiley Josey’s kill hit the floor to give the top-seeded Lady Pioneers a 25-10 victory in the third set. It carried on into the Pioneer Fieldhouse hallway, where Josey placed the regional championship plaque in an awaiting spot in the trophy case.
Even after everyone had left, senior Peyton Meacham was still celebrating — hugging everybody in sight and not wanting the night to end.
“It was a dream that these young ladies have seen before and it’s a dream that they’ve had for a long time,” Stillwater coach Jason Webber said. “It’s an exciting time for them and regardless of what happens at state, they know that they have worked about as diligently as you can to rise to the highest level possible.”
The Lady Pioneers (25-12) came out and dominated the Timberwolves 25-12 in the first set for the win. Stillwater trailed for most of the second game before Meacham’s kill late sparked the Lady Pioneers to a 25-21 victory.
Senior Alexia Geer’s ace at the end of the second game helped Stillwater carry over the momentum in the third game as they opened with an 11-2 run. From there, all it took was a little patience as Meacham and Josey continued to work Norman North’s defense.
Meacham led all players with eight kills and two blocks. She also had three aces, while Josey finished with seven kills and an ace. Meeks tallied 11 assists, while Baumann finished with eight assists.
While Stillwater dominated Norman North, it wasn’t as easy against Putnam City. Stillwater didn’t drop a game — winning 3-0 (25-12, 25-18, 25-14) — but perhaps looking toward the championship match the Lady Pioneers came out a little more sluggish than Webber would have liked.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think it was nerves,” Webber said. “It was an expectation to win without having to put any effort into it. ... I knew that we were just sloppily moving through plays and things like that. It did get better at the end, but I was not as confident going into the Norman match as we could have been if we played our best against Putnam City.”
Stillwater opened the match with a 25-12 win in the first game, led by junior Sarah Carpenter.
A late run in the second game gave the Lady Pioneers a 25-18 put Stillwater one game away from the regional championship before Cotton’s kill in the third game finished off the Lady Pirates with a 25-14 win in the third game.
“We know that we’re not going to play everything perfectly, but we do want to play the best that we can,” Webber said. “It was a good reminder that we are vulnerable. There’s not really a perfect team out there. Even the team that wins the state championship is not going to win 25-0, so it reminded us that there’s a lot of hard work ahead.”
Stillwater will play either Friday at Shawnee or Saturday at Westmoore High School.