Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. HomeTeam

Offseason work on chemistry pays off for Steinbrenner volleyball

The Warriors head into districts as a top seed in a loaded division, which includes a recently resurgent Plant.
Steinbrenner sophomore Nina Moorer, left, and junior Becca Bach help provide a formidable block to any opponent. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
Steinbrenner sophomore Nina Moorer, left, and junior Becca Bach help provide a formidable block to any opponent. [SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times]
Published Oct. 9, 2019

With five seniors graduated from last year’s team, Steinbrenner players weren’t too familiar with each other when the summer began. The Warriors were a decent 16-7 under first-year coach Sabrina Christofilis in 2018, but this season felt a bit like starting over.

So Christofilis made a point of emphasizing team bonding before the season started. The Warriors met often during the summer and participated in a team camp at the University of Tampa.

“We spent a lot of time on personal and team development,” Christofilis said. “It’s getting to know each other, supporting each other, developing friendships and better relationships. We spent a lot of time together over the summer. I’d say three to four days a week. That was really beneficial to us.”

Related: RELATED: This volleyball district is packed with contenders

The Warriors started the season well, and have gotten better and better. They have won seven straight matches, including a 3-2 win over district rival Wharton last week. They put the finishing touches on the regular season Tuesday night with a 3-0 win over Wiregrass Ranch.

Steinbrenner (21-4) is the top seed in the Class 7A, District 7 tournament. Plant (17-7), which beat Steinbrenner a few weeks ago, is the No. 2 seed and Wharton (18-3) No. 3. All three teams are among the top 30 in the state, according to MaxPreps.

The Warriors are clearly talented. Sophomore Nina Moorer has 208 kills. Fellow sophomore Zoe Chin is equally dangerous at the net with 160 kills. Junior Lilou Stegeman has more than 100 kills and leads the team with 63 blocks.

Related: RELATED: Class 7A, District 7 bracket

But the players believe chemistry has been more important than talent.

“Honestly, I think all the friendships and how we connect with each other has been the key,” Moorer said. “If we make a mistake, everybody is not going to think about it for the next five plays. We’re going to get over it right then.”

Whichever team comes out of this district will earn it. Steinbrenner made it clear that it is a serious threat after its win over Wharton.

“That was a really big win for our confidence,” Stegeman said. “Now we know we can beat one of the top teams in the state. We all feel that we can only go up from here.”

Related: RELATED: Toughest Tampa Bay volleyball classification? Try 3A

Plant gears up for postseason

Senior Elizabeth Price and Plant are hitting their stride at the right time of the season. [SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times]

Plant wanted to play the toughest schedule it could prior to the district volleyball tournament. That meant hopping on a plane and flying to Phoenix, Ariz., for the Nike Tournament of Champions last weekend. The Panthers played seven matches in two days against teams from Kentucky, Arizona, Nevada and Florida.

Plant went 4-3, defeating Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, Basha of Chandler, Ariz., and Ocala Trinity Catholic, the fifth-best team in Florida according to MaxPreps.

“The team had so much fun,” coach Vanja Todorovic said. “We played some very good teams, some state-ranked teams, and did very well.”

Related: RELATED: Volleyball leaders for Tampa Bay

As if the Arizona tournament wasn’t enough, Plant flew back home Sunday, then played rival Wharton on Monday night. The Panthers won 3-1 to avenge an early-season loss.

“You could see the girls were tired but they still played very well,” Todorovic said.

It certainly appears the Panthers have things figured out after starting the season 1-3.

“Our thought process was to play tough teams early on and figure out where we are,” Todorovic said. “Then we can work on some things and make sure that we are a better team at the end of the season.”

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Byron Pringle (13) makes a catch before a Dec. 29 game against the Los Angeles Chargers in Kansas City, Mo. [CHARLIE RIEDEL  |  Associated Press]
    The high school coaches of Azeez Al-Shaair, Matt Breida and Byron Pringle know the adversity the trio faced in making it big.
  2. Junior Jayla Murray and defending state champion Tampa Bay Tech continue to get battle tested as playoffs loom. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    The final week of the regular season finds little change at the top.
  3. Former USF quarterback Quinton Flowers is on the opening-day 52-man roster for the XFL's Tampa Bay Vipers. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    Plant High’s Aaron Murray and Wharton High’s Chase Litton join USF’s career total yardage leader in the quarterback room.
  4. Tampa Catholic's Kobe Knox dunks for two  of his 12 points in a 68-64 victory over Berkeley Prep on Friday night. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    The Crusaders don’t lead until the fourth quarter, but edge the Bucs 68-64.
  5. With seniors like Parker Conitz, pictured at left here with fellow Clearwater Shootout Player of the Game Joshua Celiscar of Winter Haven and Clearwater High coach Kris Foote, Seminole believes it can claim another district banner for the gym. [CUCK FRYE  |  Special to the Times]
    Classification and district realignment make the Warhawks’ path to a title not as daunting.
  6. Fivay girls basketball players, from left: Marielis Creque, Jania Jones and Savannah Shaffer. [RODNEY PAGE   |  Times]
    The Falcons are a postseason threat and there’s not a senior to be found on the roster.
  7. Junior Talon Bergantino is among Central's leading scorers this season. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    After taking their lumps vs. their older siblings, Talon and Caden Bergantino have emerged as fierce competitors for the Bears.
  8. Karim Nohra pulls no punches in getting his Carrollwood Day team ready for another playoff push. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    The Patriot girls notch another lopsided basketball victory with a senior-dominated team.
  9. Kobe Knox, center, and Tampa Catholic regain the top spot in the rankings thanks to recent wins over Leesburg, Naples and Seffner Christian. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times]
    Tampa Catholic takes over the top spot again after an impressive showing last week.
  10. Tampa Prep's Arianna Mosley (10), center, challenges the Wesley Chapel defense during a December game. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
    Little change at the top as the regular season winds down.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement