OAK PARK HEIGHTS — A sluggish start in each of the first two games did not faze Stillwater on Thursday as the Ponies rallied each time en route to a 3-0 nonconference volleyball victory over Apple Valley at Stillwater Area High School.
It was also a step in the right direction, especially in some of the areas Stillwater struggled in during Tuesday’s loss to highly regarded Eagan, as the Ponies prevailed by scores of 25-11, 25-21 and 21-9.
“We had a good practice on Wednesday because we didn’t do the greatest against Eagan,” Ponies coach Jamie Suapaia said. “It was just a great rebound for us and we’re looking forward to a tough tournament this weekend.”
After playing the Eagles on Thursday, the Ponies will travel to Apple Valley for a tournament on Friday and Saturday.
The Ponies trailed early in the opening game before climbing back to tie it up at 11-all and Susan Evans did the rest while serving out 14 straight points to pull away. Game 2 required a little more work, but Stillwater also finished strong in that one.
“We got down right away the first two games and then Susan served fantastic,” Suapaia said. “She did everything we asked her to do and put a lot of pressure on even their best passers. They only had three perfect passes out of her.”
Bri Horwath led Stillwater’s attack with a team-high 18 kills while Stephanie Dietrich was 6-for-6 hitting with six kills.
“Our outsides did a good job and we tried to force the middles and use Bri to our advantage because there was a mismatch there,” Suapaia said. “We did a really good job of serving and passing really well.”
After pulling out the second game, Stillwater didn’t look back while finishing strong in Game 3. The Ponies also received a strong game from Maddie Brandon, who finished with 19 digs.
“We made very few mistakes because our confidence was so high and we took good care of the ball,” Suapaia said. “We stuck with the game plan and Maddie Brandon came up with some great digs to get us some transition kills. She does a good job frustrating people sometimes.”