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The walls of the gym at first-year Steinbrenner High School are pretty much only covered with paint. In fact, an American flag was hung from the wall just this week.
But at Steinbrenner, the plans are to decorate these walls with championship banners quickly, and the Warriors volleyball team could be the first team to win a district title next week (Steinbrenner golfer Alex Milan won the Class 1A-14 individual girls golf district championship this week).
The Warriors (19-3), who finish up their regular schedule tonight against Chamberlain with a pink night -- players will wear pink jerseys -- for breast cancer awareness month, enter next week's Class 4A-9 district tournament. Steinbrenner went a pefect 7-0 in district play, has won 13 straight and hasn't dropped a game in that span. That includes five straight-set wins at the Anclote tournament this past weekend.
"I think we'd like to be that first team to put a banner on the wall," Steinbrenner coach Staci Elias said. "With the way the schedule worked out, I knew we'd be one of the first teams in the fall to play in the playoffs. Among the coaches, we joke about who is going to be the first one to win, and of we win something this year, that we would make T-shirts that say 'Got titles?'"
That's obviously borrowed from the popular "Got Rings?" T-shirts that New York Yankees fans wear -- a natural connection given the school's namesake is longtime Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.
But when it comes to the Warriors volleyball team, Elias said the team that takes the court next week could look vastly different that the one teams saw during district play earlier in the year. Injuries have forced her to shuffle her lineup, but it's also allowed Elias to see some of her players excel in other spots.
"The great thing about our team is that I have six players who can play two positions," Elias said.
For more about next week's district volleyball tournaments, read today's Hillsborough County preview.
(Photo: Steinbrenner junior co-captain Natalia Ortiz and the Warriors play behind a plain wall at home, but they head into the Class 4A-9 district tournament as the No. 1 seed looking to hang a championship banner./Photo courtesy of Allen McMurtry)