NORMAL – They don’t get the steak dinner they wanted, but Stew-Stras head coach Ronda Schlechte said her team will find another way to celebrate its second-place finish at the IHSA Class 1A state tournament.
“If we won state, we were going to have steak dinners,” Schlechte said. “I’m not sure what number two was. That would’ve been nice.”
The Comets’ second-place finish is the program’s best since winning the championship in 1986, years before any of the current players were born.
Keith Country Day (39-3) clinched its second consecutive state title by beating the Comets, 25-18 and 25-17, Saturday at Redbird Arena in Normal, but Stew-Stras senior Brittani Tabbert knows her team made history.
“We made big, big history today,” Tabbert said. “I’m not upset with anything because we made it this far and it’s the best senior gift you could ask for.”
The Comets (28-13) played from behind for most of the game, only taking the lead, 11-10, in the second set and holding onto it until the Cougars tied it 12-12 three points later.
Stew-Stras scored seven straight points, after trailing 10-5 in the second set, to take the lead and extend it to 12-10, before the Cougars six unanswered to regain control of the game.
“It was a glimpse of hope,” said Kendall Knop, who had a team-high eight kills. “We let it slip out of our hands. It’s not that we fell apart. They’re just a really good team.”
However, Keith Country Day had nobody to blame but itself during the Stew-Stras rally. The Cougars botched five of the seven points on attacking errors, while Tabbert and Knop each had a kill during the streak.
Keith Country Day head coach Lynn Cesario said she talked to her team about regrouping from the Stew-Stras rally because her players were allowing the Comets to come back.