For the first time this season in front of its own fans, the Stillwater High volleyball team swept its opponent.
Stillwater dropped its previous two matches to a pair of state powers, but took care of business against a Moore squad that entered Tuesday night with a winning record.
The Lady Pioneers swept Moore by winning the first set easily, 25-15, and closing the next two sets strongly, winning 25-22 and 25-21.
“We’re finally getting glimpses of the team we’re building, and that’s nice to see,” SHS volleyball coach Kyle Liechti said. “We’ve been pounding it for six weeks now, and we’re finally breaking through. We’ve got some more growing to do, but that’s a great baseline to start on.”
Freshman Bess Glenn enjoyed the home sweep in front of a rowdy SHS student section.
“This felt awesome,” Glenn said. “All of the hard work we’ve been putting in during practice showed up there, and the leadership from the seniors was awesome.”
Stillwater (4-5) and Moore were tied 20-20 and 21-21 in the final two sets, respectively, but SHS finished both with an attacking offense and tough defense. The Lady Pioneers outscored Moore (7-6) 9-1 during the final stretches to keep from having the match extended.
“They’re starting to trust each other,” Liechti said. “They’re starting to do their job, so we don’t have people trying to pick up slack anywhere. They’re playing more as a team, which is great to see. We’ve definitely been working on that chemistry.”
Moore led the second set early, 3-0, and maintained a small lead until a 5-0 Stillwater run put the Lady Pioneers ahead 14-13. A kill from senior Shakira Lane, along with a few miscues from Moore, helped Stillwater take the lead.
During the final points, a kill from junior Savanna Stewart pushed the Stillwater lead to three points before freshman Bess Glenn scored the final two SHS points with kills of her own.
“It’s so fun,” Glenn said of earning a kill. “It’s like my favorite feeling ever. It feels nice.”
Glenn admits her timing with the setters isn’t great yet, but at times it’s worked quite well. Her and Liechti agree that once it’s improved, it will be a lethal combination.
“I haven’t ever played with them, because this is my first season with them,” Glenn said. “The timing has been a little off, but we’ve been working on it. We still have a lot of room to grow on that, but it’s getting closer.”
The final set began in Moore’s favor, as the Lady Lions took an 8-3 lead. Stillwater trailed until a 4-0 run turned into a 19-17 advantage for the home squad.
After it was tied 21-21, Stillwater took the lead on a kill from senior Lauren Phillips. Sophomore Hallie Thrash followed with a set dump before senior Blannie Baum served an ace. Stillwater won the match with a block.
“I think they got into the right mindset,” Liechti said. “I give them all the credit. When they want to, they’re going to fight. When they want to roll over, they’ll roll over. We’re trying to amplify one and diminish the other, but we’re still looking to put a complete set together. But, that was sure better than what we’ve been doing.
“We’ve been having trouble finishing the last few games, so that’s great to see. Fight until the end, stay together until the end and trust each other until the end.”
The Lady Pioneers controlled the first set after it used a 5-0 run to take a 12-8 lead. Their aggressive, attacking offense was too much for Moore during the second half of the set. A Stillwater ace capped the set.
Stillwater enjoyed the sweep after some early season struggles as the team finds its chemistry. It’s still working on that, especially with senior McKenzie Vilade sidelined, as she was Tuesday night.
“That’s giving the other girls a chance to shine and grow, but the biggest thing is it teaches them to be a great teammate,” Liechti said. “That’s the biggest thing – if you’re used to playing on the court and then you’re sidelined – you learn how to be a good teammate, and McKenzie has shown that. It’s just brought an energy to our bench, which fuels the players on the court.”
Stillwater will next play at Edmond Memorial at 6 p.m. Thursday against the squad it knocked off it last year’s Class 6A state semifinals. Next Tuesday, the Lady Pioneers will host Bixby, which is coached by former SHS coach Zoe Stinchcomb. The match will begin at 6 p.m.