Dream season comes to an end as Rudolf Steiner loses in state quarterfinal
LITCHFIELD -- As the final whistle blew at the Class D state quarterfinals at Litchfield High School, the Rudolf Steiner volleyball team huddled up for one last time and their classmates stormed the court. The team then joined them in celebration.
Just imagine if they'd actually won?
But Stenier ran into a superior opponent on Tuesday night, falling to Mendon 0-3 (25-19, 25-15, 25-8). The lop-sided victory didn't take away from what had been a historically successful season for the Storm.
“It was just so much fun to be in this atmosphere and play with these girls, almost knowing that we came to terms with it at one point,” said senior captain Jo Mathias-Porter. “We gave it our all and did not leave anything out there and it was a blast.”
Tears and disappointed faces are the norm when a team’s season ends, but the Storm players were all smiles as they sang and chanted with the fans that supported them during their historic tournament run.
“It felt amazing. The support from them has been phenomenal,” Mathias-Porter said.
According to co-head coaches Alex Perrin and Chris Cristian, Steiner was the first Ann Arbor area team to reach the state quarterfinals since 1991 when Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard did so en route to a state championship.
“They all recognize that this is just a privilege to play here and that’s what it’s all about, it’s about having fun playing volleyball and keeping it in perspective,” Perrin said. “It’s not all about winning and losing. It’s about saying that we can be successful.”
The run was impressive, but once the Storm took the court against Mendon, it didn’t take long to see which team was headed to the semifinals.
Steiner jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first set, but the Hornets responded by going on a 10-2 run. After falling behind 19-11 in the set, the Storm went on a run of its own cutting the deficit to 21-19 before Mendon pulled away.
Mendon head coach Kathy Trenary said her team just needed to calm down and make the proper adjustments to handle the Steiner comeback.
“We tried to block the cross court on their outside hitters. We moved some people in because they were hitting down, just little tiny adjustments. They just have to start feeling the game and then they get going,” Trenary said.
After the opening set, Steiner couldn’t find a way to slow down the Mendon attack and eventually were worn down by the ferocious offense the Hornets displayed.
“Fundamentally we ran into a better team. Talent wise I think we matched them, but their overall level of play was stronger than ours,” Perrin said. “Their volleyball IQ was very impressive. I have to tip my cap to their coach, that was by far the best defense we’ve run into all year.”
Junior Brooke Howard had 14 kills for the Hornets while Alexis Russell and Amanda Lovell each scored 12 points. Russell led the Hornets with seven service aces during the match.
Captains Tesssa Belanger and Mathais-Porter led the Storm with five kills each.
“Mendon was one of the best teams we’ve ever played. They outplayed us, they were all together, technically a better team than us,” said sophomore Kaiya Herman-Hilker.
As disappointed as the team was to see its season come to an end, the Storm were happy to have made so far in the tournament.
“I’m very proud, it has been an awesome run for this Steiner Storm team,” Cristian said. “They worked really hard. We accomplished a lot and they should be proud of what we were able to accomplish. They were disappointed but, still satisfied knowing that they’ve come a long way and broke some records along the way.”
On the other side, Trenary was excited for her players to finally get back to the state semifinals.
“That feels really good, especially for this group, they’ve been about three years in the making. These kids, the juniors especially want it so bad, so this is really great for them,” Trenary said.