Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Steinbrenner volleyball ready to take that big next step

Rachel Mathison and Steinbrenner are on a 10-match win streak since losing to unbeaten Durant, tonight’s region opponent.


Rachel Mathison and Steinbrenner are on a 10-match win streak since losing to unbeaten Durant, tonight’s region opponent.

TAMPA — Just inside the foyer of Steinbrenner's gymnasium, where the 5-year-old walls still smell brand new, hangs a pair of lonely banners commemorating two Warriors state titles.

The tribute to a Steinbrenner girls' soccer team and 100-meter hurdler is evidence of how much the Warriors have accomplished since the school opened in 2009; the white walls surrounding it shows the lack of athletic tradition with which a new school is forced to start.

Tonight, in a region semifinal against undefeated Durant, the volleyball team seeks to further a tradition it is trying hard to establish.

On Oct. 25, the Warriors beat Wiregrass Ranch 3-1 to take their fifth straight district title, one for every year the program has existed. It's an accomplishment they covet, middle blocker Lauren Heldt said. But it's one on which the Warriors are anxious to build.

"Playing districts is okay. You've got to win that," Heldt said. "But we want to compete at the next level and get to the next level and be the better team and go farther than we ever have."

To do that, the Warriors (21-3) would need to win a region final, a match Steinbrenner lost to Venice a year ago. The Warriors must get past the only unbeaten team in Class 7A volleyball to get there.

Steinbrenner was one of just two teams to force five games against Durant (27-0) when the Warriors and Cougars met in the Hillsborough Community College high school tournament Sept. 21.

Steinbrenner led 2-1 after three sets, but in a match that Warriors coach Laura Stegenga said came down to conditioning, the Cougars won out and took the decisive fifth set 15-13.

"It was neck and neck, game for game," Stegenga said about the match. It leaves her hopeful about round two.

"Really, it's anybody's match."

Steinbrenner has dropped just two sets since that loss to the Cougars, and it goes into Tuesday's meeting with a 10-match win streak. Heldt, a junior, said she's seen her team grow in each of the three years she's been on the varsity squad.

The team that fell to Venice last year — so close to a program benchmark the Warriors could taste it — was talented, Heldt said. But this one is even better.

"I think this could be our year," she said.

Three times in school history, it's been Durant's year. State titles, after all, are what traditions are made of.

But as far as Stegenga is concerned, traditions are also formed by confronting a challenge and beating it. And that's one thing the Warriors can see in their future.

"(Against) teams like Durant, you're definitely earning what you're doing. Nothing's coming easy," Stegenga said. "When you're really earning something, that's how you start a tradition. Because you're not getting an easy pass to anywhere."

Kelly Parsons can be reached at or on Twitter @_kellyparsons.

Region semifinals

7 tonight

8A: Bloomingdale at Palm Harbor University

7A: Steinbrenner at Durant

5A: Bradenton Bayshore at


4A: Berkeley Prep at Holy Names

3A: Bishop McLaughlin at

Tampa Prep

2A: Cambridge Christian at Tampa Bay HEAT

Steinbrenner volleyball ready to take that big next step 11/04/13 [Last modified: Monday, November 4, 2013 10:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tiger Woods says medication, not alcohol, led to DUI arrest in Florida

    Public Safety

    Players arriving for a tournament this week at Muirfield Village might notice a framed picture of Tiger Woods with a resplendent smile and bright red shirt. He's posed there with the trophy, an image that embodies the excitement he once brought to golf.

    This image provided by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office on Monday, May 29, 2017, shows Tiger Woods. Police in Florida say Tiger Woods was been arrested for DUI.  [Palm Beach County Sheriff's office via AP]
  2. Four key games that could decide Bucs' success in 2017


    The Bucs finished so close to making the playoffs in 2016 -- literally flip-flop the last two results and have them beat the Saints and lose to the Panthers and they're in as a wild card with the same 9-7 record -- that it's difficult to say with any certainty what will happen in the 2017 season.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, shown celebrating a touchdown against the Giants in 2015, will face New York again this fall in Week 4 in Tampa.
  3. Frank Deford wrote with sincerity, giving depth to complicated sports figures

    Human Interest

    Frank Deford practically invented the notion of multimedia: He exported his voice to radio, TV and film, and if you didn't know him you might have thought he was an actor, because he wore purple suits and looked like Clark Gable. But Frank, who died Sunday at age 78, was a writer above all things, and an important …

    In a 1991 photo, Frank Deford holds a proof of The National Sports Daily, of which he was editor and publisher [Associated Press]
  4. Clarity coming this week on Florida Gators, Malik Zaire


    After months of speculation, we could finally get some clarity this week on the Florida Gators and graduate transfer quarterback Malik Zaire.

    SEC flags outside the hotel of last year's spring meetings in Destin. This year's meetings could have a huge impact on the Florida Gators' season.
  5. Jose De Leon sent back to minors after helping Rays win


    RHP Jose De Leon worked 2 2/3 innings to get the win in his Rays debut Monday and then was optioned back to Triple-A Durham.

    De Leon was brought up to provide length and depth in the bullpen after the Rays played 15 innings on Sunday, and he did that, allowing three runs on four hits while throwing 69 …