25, 25, 25: The Stevens Raiders revenge story
RAPID CITY, S.D. – For the first time in more than a decade, the Rapid City Stevens Raiders girls volleyball team are state champions.
Their 2018 season was a story preceded by defeat and followed by inspiration and sweet revenge.
“After having such a successful year, and then getting second … it gave us motivation.”
One year ago, the Rapid City Stevens Raiders Class AA girls volleyball team competed in the state championships against the tough Harrisburg Tigers.
They came up short, settling for second place.
Mid-hitter Phebie Rossi remembered feeling her heart sink at the reality of the loss.
“The second the last point was done in that game, I was bawling, my team was bawling, everyone – we just felt it,” Rossi said. “Then, you wake up the next morning, and it’s like ‘oh, that happened last night.’”
Devastated, but not destroyed: Rossi knew next year would be the year.
“It really fueled us this season. We didn’t want to have that feeling again. We didn’t want to have that desperation and sadness again. We wanted to win and we wanted to be number one.”
They went into the new year with determination and passion, notching 34 wins into the 2018 record book.
There was one mishap; their only loss this season came from the Sioux Falls Washington Warriors.
Coach Kylie Voorhees said that they were “going at each other” throughout their minor rivalry.
“We went to the Summer Slam tournament and we beat them in the Summer Slam tournament, and then they came back and beat us in the season,” Voorhees said.
The two met once more in Sioux Falls on Saturday – a final rematch to determine who would hoist the State AA trophy.
The Raiders craved revenge. This time around, they said, “not again.”
Voorhees explained that her team dominated the game both offensively and defensively.
“Marlee [Schneider] did a great job creating one-on-ones for our hitters … the offense was distributed just so well. Their blockers had no idea where we were going … that created splits and helped us control the match.”
Right side hitter Emily Sobczak said the Warriors’ main strength was their height advantage. They boasted at least four players at and over six feet tall, while Rossi was their only teammate over the big six.
However, according to Sobczak, it was their team dynamic that made the difference.
“I think that knowing each other and how we play and what we need from each other, like when things aren’t going our way – I feel like the chemistry that we have with each other and the experience that we have with each other definitely helped.”
The final score: 25 to 22, 25 to 18 and 25 to 22. A full sweep by the girl raiders led to a first place state title, the fourth title in school history and their first in 11 years.
“All season long, these girls just continuously fight and fight, and they just proved themselves, and they definitely proved themselves at the state tournament again this year,” Voorhees finished.
From a Stevens alumnus to future alumna: congratulations to the Stevens Raiders girls volleyball team.