Volleyball: Ponies hand Roseville first SEC setback


OAK PARK HEIGHTS — Bri Horwath and Savannah Sprenger combined for 37 kills to help the Stillwater volleyball team knock off Roseville 3-0 in Thursday’s Suburban East Conference match at Stillwater Area High School.

Both teams entered the match undefeated in conference play, but it was the Ponies (4-0 SEC, 10-3) who now join Cretin-Derham Hall (4-0, 10-3) atop the standings. Following an adventurous opening game, Stillwater completed the three-game sweep in winning by scores of 28-26, 25-20, 25-23.

Roseville fell to 4-1 in SEC play. The Ponies travel Cretin-Derham Hall for a match on Oct. 11.

“This was a match that at the beginning off the year we had marked on our calendar,” Ponies coach Jamie Suapaia said. “We weren’t looking past Andover (on Tuesday) at all, but we knew in the back of our minds that this was going to be the battle and a tough one for us and we had to go in guns-a-blazing. They stepped up and played some really good Stillwater volleyball.

“It was a good test for us. We put a lot of pressure on (the players) and wanted to see mentally where they were at and, at the same time, it was not necessarily to worry about the opponent, but what we needed to do on our side. This was a big test for us and shows how far we are in our conference and section and that we should be able to compete and go in and beat anyone.”

Horwath led the Ponies with 21 kills and Sprenger added 16. The Ponies thought they won Game 1 on a Horwath kill while leading 26-25, but it was discovered Stillwater was out of rotation and — after a five-minute delay while sorting things out — it remained tied 26-all. Roseville misfired on a serve and committed a hitting error as the Ponies won the opener.

“We basically won that twice,” Suapaia said. “I just told our kids to maintain their composure and just keep taking care of the ball.”

The second and third games were also close.

“It was back and forth,” Suapaia said. “We definitely had the momentum going into (Game 2). They did a good job and played some hard-nosed defense and came back, but we built up too big of a gap right away. We were playing error-free volleyball and they had to be almost perfect to get points on us.”

Stillwater finished with 70 digs as a team, led by Maddie Brandon with 31 and Susan Evans with 17. Evans also totaled 40 set assists to help lead the attack, which also received eight kills from Stephanie Houle and four from Stephanie Dietrich. Sophie Vick also provided three kills.

“We’ve just been preaching all year long and our ball control and our defense really stepped up again,” Suapaia said. “We put on our helmets and just got after the ball and when we dug, we dug in system and got good counters off that.”