LUTZ — As Steinbrenner’s two-games-to-one lead on Palmetto began to unravel in Tuesday’s Class 4A region quarterfinals, the Warriors couldn’t help but think back to this time last year.
It was then, again on their home court and in the same round, when the Warriors’ first season ended after a two-games-to-one lead turned into a five-game loss to Lakewood.
But this time the Warriors persevered, overcoming a 7-3 Game 4 deficit to earn their first region tournament win in the school’s second year 25-22, 25-16, 21-25, 25-19.
“I think we had a little deja vu from last year, and I told the girls to remember that feeling in Game 4 last year and work through it, and that’s what they did,” said Steinbrenner coach Staci Elias. “You could see the difference in the eyes of the seniors. They didn’t have this scared look in their eyes. In Game 4, they had this look that said, ‘Let’s do it.’ ”
Senior libero Cary Anne Bame, who led the Warriors with 16 digs, made one of the match’s top plays, sprinting beyond the endline to save a ball that got caught in the roof, leading to a point that gave Steinbrenner a 10-8 Game 4 advantage.
Steinbrenner (18-9) has overcome its share of adversity this season. It broke in a new setter in the preseason — Erin McMurtry, who hadn’t set since middle school — and their its top hitter, Kristen Liguori, is no longer on the team.
“We know what our goals were at the beginning of the season, and even though there are some tough times we just pull through,” Bame said. “That’s what we have to focus on. We have our goals set high for making states this year. Whatever happens, we’re going to pull through and do it.”
Other players have stepped up, including junior outside hitter Miranda Powell, who led the Warriors with 10 kills and had several key serves.
Steinbrenner spread out its attack with Megan Moyer (seven kills), Natalia Oritz (seven kills) and Madison Seuzeneau (six kills). Freshman Rachel Mathison (six kills), one of Liguori’s replacements on the outside, put away the final point.
“I think there was motivation from last year’s experience,” Bame said. “Our theme has been to finish every game, and the difference between this year’s team is that we’ve finished. We unified, we came together and we won it.”
Katie Dickerson added 10 digs and Nicole Doehrmann had nine digs for the Warriors.
Palmetto outside hitter Allie Clements led the Tigers with 12 kills, and setter Demi-Shay Watchorn led the team with 24 digs for the Tigers (15-11).