LUTZ — Steinbrenner coach Jennifer Graham said her team spends a lot of time practicing its serving.
“Serving wins games,” the first-year Warriors coach said.
And playing against a Wharton team Tuesday night that came to Steinbrenner with just one loss this season, the Warriors exposed the Wildcats’ biggest weakness.
Steinbrenner rolled to a 25-12, 25-14, 25-11 win, snapping the Wildcats’ nine-match winning streak.
For Steinbrenner, a third-year school that this year made a two-classification jump to 7A, it was also the second win over an 8A team in as many nights — Steinbrenner beat Durant in five games Monday.
“Last year we had the weakest conference and some of the teams just weren’t that good,” Graham said. “I hate to say that, but this year I’m glad we moved up.
“I told the parents on the first day: ‘Plan to be up until 11 o’clock. We’re going to be playing four of five games every night.’ That’s great because we have to play good teams later on.”
Senior Miranda Powell led the Warriors with 15 kills, and senior libero Cary Anne Bame had a team-high 17 digs. Junior Madison Seuzeneau tallied seven kills and sophomore setter Casey McLean had 21 assists for Steinbrenner.
But it was the Warriors’ serving that dictated the pace of the match, flustering Wharton’s attack throughout the night.
“We serve in certain areas,” Graham said. “We serve seams in between people just to create havoc on the court and to break up their communication lines and to keep it away as much as we can from their better girls. It really is that easy, but it’s hard to serve spots sometimes.”
Wharton coach Eric Barber said Steinbrenner was the best serving team he has faced this season.
“They played tough,” Barber said. “They were consistent. Their serving was better than I realized. They kept us on our heels all night.”
Middle hitter Stephany Brown led Wharton (11-2) with seven kills.