By Michael Kinney
The Moore American
MOORE — The ride continues for No. 9 Southmoore after its convincing run through the regional volleyball tournament last week. They defeated Owasso 3-2 (24-26, 25-21, 25-17, 25-22) in the title match to earn the program’s first regional championship.
“Overall, each and every one of the players stepped up their game play and contributed to both match wins,” Southmoore coach Janet Brannon said. “There was not one player that had to shoulder the team that night - it was a complete team effort. Our defense was scrappy as I’ve ever seen it with amazing digs and blocking. Our offense outsmarted and overpowered both Yukon and Owasso - but stuck to our game plan and played within ourselves.”
The Cats defeated Owasso 3-2 (24-26, 25-21, 25-17, 25-22) in the title match to earn the program’s first regional championship.
“We started out a bit shaky - going point for point against them with some unforced errors that cost us the set point in the first set, but we were able to settle down and get back to our game plan and execute for the next three set wins,” Brannon said. “All players truly dug deep, but our defense was the backbone of our execution that kept us in the match - they just refused to let a ball fall.”
Now the SaberCats (18-12) must prepare themselves for the team’s first trip to the state tournament, where it will join seven other squads from around the state looking to claim the 6A title starting Friday at Bixby High.
Even though a championship is Brannon’s main objective, she and her team realize how big of an accomplishment this is.
“It means that after all of our hard work for the past five years, we have finally arrived as a serious contender in the 6A volleyball scene,” Brannon said. “This is not only Southmoore’s first state tournament appearance, but we are also the first team in the district of Moore to ever advance. That’s a very special first that won’t soon be forgotten. This team has set the bar very high for future teams in Moore.”
But the SaberCats focus isn’t down the road success right now. They are looking at what it’s going to take to advance in a field of teams that includes No. 1 Edmond Santa Fe (29-1), No. 10 Stillwater (13-15), No. 5 Jenks (18-8), No. 3 Bishop Kelly (22-6) and No. 6 Edmond Memorial (14-14).
Southmoore’s first road block comes in the form of No. 2 Edmond North (22-3). They face off at 4:30 p.m. in the final game of the opening round.
“I need to see them believe that they deserve to be there and our defense has to be on point,” Brannon said. “The best part of the regional tournament was that they mentioned several times that it was surreal and as if they hadn’t won the regional tournament because it just felt like a good match win - like any other regular match. It’s always tough being the underdog and facing a top notch program, but I believe they are up for any challenge that they face.”
The Cats have been led throughout the season by senior Amy Serowski. She will be counted on again to keep the team steady and produce on both offense and defense.
“We need Amy to stay within herself and produce as she has all four years at Southmoore,” Brannon said. “To not try too hard to take on the team on the other side of the net on all by herself, but to focus on executing her plays and encourage the rest of her teammates to do the same.”
Most of the programs competing at state this week have had past success in one way or the other. Bishop Kelly has won 16 team titles since 1988. Memorial has four, Santa Fe and Jenks each have three on its resume.
With the SaberCats only in their sixth season of even competing, Brannon believes they are on the right track.
“Our junior high program teams have been defeating the Edmond and Stillwater teams for three years now and that is leading into our high school program being able to compete with those solid programs as well,” Brannon said. “With our youth league, junior high and club programs continuing the plan that we have in place - we are convinced that we will continue to be a top volleyball program in the state for many years to come.”