By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
With so much attention being paid to Stillwater High School senior volleyball player Carley Geer during Tuesday’s game against Southmoore, it’d be easy for other seniors to get lost in the mix.
But as Geer celebrated breaking the career record for most digs at Stillwater, it was the other three seniors — Maggie Ireton, Morgan Wheatley and Sarah Carpenter — that paved the way for a 3-2 come-from-behind victory for the Lady Pioneers.
“It’s common that teams will drop a set here or there,” Webber said. “It’s uncommon to see that type of voracious hunger and that type of talking to oneself, saying ‘I know your weakness now and I’m coming after it.’ We had a couple players figured it out.”
Wheatley recorded five kills and a block in the fifth set alone — the last kill being a game winner just inside the line — as the Lady Pioneers (5-4) turned what was an 11-13 deficit into a 15-13 victory in the fifth set in what Geer described as the ultimate comeback.
“It was one of the most exciting things that I’ve experienced in my life,” Geer said. “We had a lot of trust in everybody to serve the ball, hit the ball in and play fundamentally sound.”
Sound and hungry, indeed. It didn’t matter who was attacking — Wheatley, Ireton or Carpenter — Southmoore didn’t have an answer. And even when things did get tough, the quartet of seniors were there to keep the wheels on the cart and settle some of the younger players down.
“By the time the Southmoore coach called the timeout, my girls were telling me what the game plan was, which means they knew how to win,” Webber said. “That was something special.”
Early on it didn’t look like Stillwater would need five games to defeat the SaberCats. Led by Geer, Stillwater parlayed a 12-2 run into a 13-4 lead in the first game.
Southmoore made a little comeback late in the game, but freshman Savannah Onley put the game away with a pair of kills as Stillwater took the first game 25-19.
As good as Stillwater looked in the first game, that’s how much it struggled in the second. Southmoore’s front line dominated, recording several blocks, capped off by Cassidy Wilson’s block to end the second game with a 25-13 win for the SaberCats.
“We won the first one and then just sort of lost sight of what we wanted to do,” Webber said. “Southmoore did a great job of adjusting against our primary hitters, so I had to throw some secondary hitters in different places to try and mix it up a bit.”
Stillwater stayed even with Southmoore for most of the third set, but struggled down the stretch. Southmoore then went on a 11-1 run, aided by a pair of aces from Carly Fuget, to take the third set 25-16.
“Everyone just got down on themselves and though that we were going to lose,” Geer said. “Their mindset was really low, but we picked ourselves up and fought through it.”
That’s when things started to turn around for the Lady Pioneers.
During the fourth set a countdown began as Geer approached Jennifer Zhao’s record of 1,299 career digs, that seemed to spark Ireton, who started attacking Southmoore’s defense with everything she had. Even after the burst of emotion for Geer’s 1,300th dig, Ireton didn’t back off — lacing one last kill in the heart of the SaberCat defense for a 25-23 winner, setting up the electric final set.
“After that set, I basically told them what’s gotten them this far will take them home,” Webber said. “The girls stayed really focused on what they had been working on and they got better and better, as Maggie Ireton showed in the fourth set.”
Following the win, Stillwater will host Edmond Santa Fe Thursday in the Pioneer Fieldhouse.