Aug. 11—After the first match of the season, Stillwater High volleyball coach Kyle Liechti has complete faith in his team’s ability to play with unity.
Stillwater High pushed past Ponca City 3-1 (25-13, 25-11, 21-25, 25-18) on Tuesday night at home. Liechti said he wasn’t sure what to expect from the season opener, but it was great to see his team showcase its strengths.
“I think a big thing for our team this year is gonna be confidence and togetherness, their ability to connect on the court,” Liechti said.
After jumping to a dominant start through two sets and losing momentum to the Wildcats in the third, the Lady Pioneers persevered through an up-and-down fourth set. Junior Riley Rattay had three aces in the fourth set to help her team start the season with a win.
“She’s been awesome,” Liechti said. “She’s been a leader on and off the court. Serving’s something we’ve been working on with her a lot recently.”
Bess Glenn, another junior starter, also played a major role in the victory, delivering kills when the Lady Pioneers needed them most. Liechti said Glenn elevates the entire team when she’s in the game.
“She’s a great communicator,” Liechti said. “Great player, just physical, mental, everything skills-wise she does amazing, and she just brings her team up.”
The Lady Pioneers wasted no time in highlighting their team chemistry and determination. They breezed through the beginning of the match with a quick 5-0 run and never let Ponca City lead in the first two sets. Stillwater High refused to even allow a tie until the third set was knotted at 2.
Then the Wildcats made the match more challenging, pulling ahead 11-10 in that set for their first lead. Stillwater attempted to rally for a third-set win, but it was too late to overcome Ponca City’s 8-0 run. After Stillwater dropped the set, Liechti reminded the Lady Pioneers to rely on one of their defining characteristics: cohesion.
“We started pulling away from each other, and we needed to connect more and then just do what we’re capable of, what we showed them in the first two sets,” Liechti said. “And we got there, eventually, but that’s something we’ll work on.”
As the Stillwater High student section filled the gym with cheers, the Lady Pioneers regrouped and brought back their in-sync style of play. Stillwater ended the match on a high note with a 4-0 run in the fourth set.
Next, Stillwater travels to Bartlesville for a match at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Liechti said his team can improve its serve receive and work on playing with consistency, but the opening match justified his confidence in the Lady Pioneers.
With the victory, Stillwater continued its recent success against Ponca City. The Lady Pioneers also defeated the Wildcats twice during the past season, but Liechti said that didn’t affect their approach.
“It doesn’t even matter who we’re playing,” Liechti said. “We’re gonna play our ball.”
Follow News Press sports reporter Hallie Hart on Twitter @halliehart for updates on Stillwater High athletics.