By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
When it comes to the Stillwater Varsity volleyball tournament, Stillwater High School volleyball coach Jason Webber likens it to a dress rehersal.
True, the games do count in the record books, but it’s the stuff that you might not always see in live action where Webber’s Lady Pioneers will really benefit.
“It gives us a really good look at the end of the season,” Webber said. “We have a lot of the top ranked teams coming to this tournament. It’s very competitive. Sometimes, it’s a good look at the state tournament to come and it’s a very neat tournament to be a part of.”
It’s also fun.
For Webber, something about having multiple volleyball games in the Pioneer Fieldhouse just feels right. It’s why he’s carried on that tradition for 10 years and why he only invites the best of the best to join the tournament.
“It’s volleyball,” Webber said. “It’s fun to play. It’s fun to see all these teams. There are a lot of coaches out there that I’m very fond of, and they’ll all be coming to Stillwater. It will be a great time.”
But while it may be fun to host a tournament like this, that’s not how the Lady Pioneers are looking at it. For them, this tournament is mostly business and a chance to build momentum for the home stretch of the season. And it all begins at 10 a.m. Friday in the Pioneer Fieldhouse.
“It’s a great opportunity to see those top teams and prepare,” Webber said. “We get a lot of good looks at good teams and they get us ready for other good teams that we’ll see at regionals and at state.”
Webber said there may be a little more pressure on the Lady Pioneers to perform, considering it is on their home court, but he thinks his team is up to that challenge.
“I think there’s going to be a pretty great deal of pressure if we choose to look at it that way,” Webber said. “There’s some big teams coming to our house. We have a great opportunity to beat Westmoore after they beat us in three games (Tuesday), so we have an opportunity to even that score. ... It would be nice to put a couple things together and show that we are a top-contending team.”
Trying to put things together has been a bit of a challenge for the Lady Pioneers heading into Friday’s tournament. Seemingly everything that could go wrong, did against Westmoore Tuesday.
Now Webber is hoping that 15 hours after facing Ponca City Thursday, Stillwater will be ready to go when the two-day tournament kicks off Friday.
“We hope that everybody gets healthy,” Webber said. “We need to put in a good practice and good match against Ponca. It’s going to hit us early Friday morning at 10 a.m.”
Even though Stillwater may not necessarily be the favorite to win the tournament, just getting a shot at a little revenge is all that Webber is looking for.
“I’d like another shot at Westmoore and Bartlesville,” Webber said. “There’s going to be a lot of great teams at this tournament, but we do feel like if we can get on a bit of a roll, we should have a successful tournament to which we build toward the end of the season and state.”