By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Every time Stillwater High School volleyball coach Jason Webber walks into the gym at Pioneer Fieldhouse, he glances at the scattering of volleyball trophies in the case.
Amid the cluster of tournament plaques and trophies, Webber notices an absence — Stillwater hasn’t won a regional championship and advanced to state since the 2009-10 season.
Webber hopes that changes Thursday night as the Class 6A No. 5 Lady Pioneers (19-12) play host in a Class 6A regional.
“There’s a little bit of history that I would like to revisit,” Webber said. “There’s a past legacy that has been built by a former coach, who took us there several times before. He has paved the way for us, and now we just have to try and remember the basics of what got us here. We just have to keep instilling discipline and goal setting in our girls.”
Stillwater’s quest for a regional title begins with a 4:30 p.m. match against Putnam City. Even though the Lady Pioneers come in as the top seed, Webber says winning a regional title will be anything but easy — especially with state qualifier Norman North on the other side of the bracket.
“We will face (Norman North), which has posed a challenge to us in the past,” Webber said. “We did win and we won with a wide spread, but we still try and approach everything with a respect for the team but without fear. That’s sort of our motto — ‘Respect all teams, fear none.’ We have our work cut out for us. We expect two victories, but it’s going to take some work.”
One of those things Webber has been working on since beating Owasso Tuesday was serving. The inability to keep the ball in play forced the match to go five games before the Lady Pioneers pulled out the victory.
“We’re definitely going to work on our serving and what to do when we get stuck against the big block,” Webber said. “We’re looking at how we can change that up and improve our momentum.”
Webber may want to change momentum in games, but there’s no need to change Stillwater’s momentum in matches. Coming into the regional tournament, Stillwater has won seven of the last nine games with the only two losses coming to Class 6A No. 2 Edmond North and No. 3 Edmond Memorial.
“I believe that the momentum that we’ve had for the last several matches is really what’s going to carry us,” Webber said. “The discipline that we try and maintain in practice, getting up every morning and doing the right thing when we walk through these doors, and putting everything else aside for a little while — all that stuff is going to make the difference.”
“It’s definitely a confidence boost for us,” Stillwater senior Kiley Josey said. “We wanted the win (against Owasso) and now that we’ve got it, we’re going to come in with the same momentum and same confidence in the matches Thursday.”
On top of the momentum Stillwater carries into the regional, Webber said having it on the Lady Pioneers’ home floor may increase the pressure to win, but it also might give Stillwater an advantage.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to host,” Webber said. “It’s become second hat to have regionals here in Stillwater. We’ve hosted all but one outright. It’s just neat to bring that kind of tradition and that legacy back to Stillwater.”