By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
A casual observer might not notice Stillwater High School senior volleyball player Tessa Meeks. She doesn’t have the overpowering attack of a Peyton Meacham or a Kiley Josey nor the defensive presence of a Carley Geer.
But without Meeks, the Lady Pioneers wouldn’t be making their first trip to state in three years.
“The setter usually gets no recognition,” Stillwater coach Jason Webber said. “They play the silent party, but behind every great team is a great setter. We even say in the coaching business, when your setter gets 20 percent better, you’re team gets 80 percent better. She’s just a silent party, but she does her job day in and day out.”
Her game may be silent, but the senior co-captain let out the loudest cheer when Stillwater beat Norman North in the regional finals. Meeks had 11 assists and an ace against Norman North. She also had 10 assists and an ace in the regional opener against Putnam City to help the Lady Pioneers return to state.
“I’ve had some great passes and I’ve got some great hitters,” said Meeks, who like any good setter credits those around her for her success. “I’ve got some great coaches who have been teaching me new ways to set and fixing some of the old bad habits that I used to have.”
But it isn’t just her ability to set the ball that has Stillwater peaking at the right time. It’s also something she’s added to her repertoire this season — defense.
“One thing that she’s played a big role in that has really been revolutionary in the last two and a half months is our right back defense,” Webber said. “That’s been the weakness for us recently and she has led the improvement on our right back defense becoming much stronger. It’s got to the point where I can take my attention off of that and start to look at our opponent’s weaknesses and how to capitalize on those.”
Meeks credits Stillwater’s coaching staff with helping her adjust to the changes and become a better player.
“My setting coach is also my defensive coach,” Meeks said. “She’s played both positions, so I just have to trust her to put me in the right spot.”
It would be easy for Meeks to become jealous of players like Meacham and Josey. But while those two enjoy the spotlight of being arguably Stillwater’s best 1-2 punch in school history, on any given point it’s easy to see that Meacham and Josey consider Meeks the real star of the group.
“I don’t get jealous at all,” Meeks said. “Immediately after Peyton hits she comes in and tell me ‘Great set,’ and Kiley is the exact same way. The recognition that I don’t get from other places, I get from them and it definitely makes up for it. I’d rather have it from them than from other people.”
Garrett McBroom, football
Kiley Josey, volleyball
Brandon Prather, football