STRASBURG — Senior Lindsay Burton did the only thing doctors said she could do on the volleyball court, serving Stew-Stras’ final three points on Wednesday.
Burton, who suffered a high ankle sprain Sept. 19 that ended her season, checked into the game with the approval of head coach Ronda Schlechte to serve and then stand safely in the corner of the court.
“I wanted to do that, but didn’t want her to get hurt at the same time,” Schlechte said. “I’m glad she got to do that because she was upset that she didn’t get to play tonight.”
Schlechte told her senior, from the sideline, to “Stand still” after serving the ball, while her teammates practically competed one player down to win the final three points of its two-set win over Ramsey.
Whether or not she got to play as physically as she normally would, Burton said being on the court to finish the Comets’ senior night highlighted her lost season.
“That meant more to me than anything,” said Burton, who injured her ankle in a game against St. Elmo/Brownstown. “That was the best part of this whole season. It was awesome.”
Schlechte said it was vindication for her senior, who aspires to play college volleyball, at the end of what would be a stressful season for any athlete.
“It’s bothered her a lot,” Schlechte said. “It kind of hurts because she was wanting to do college ball. She’s got club (volleyball) to look forward to.”
On the court, Stew-Stras made quick work of Ramsey, winning 25-13 and 25-7, but Schlechte said her team did a good job not playing down to its opponent.
Schlechte said Wednesday’s win should boost the team’s confidence because it played the game it wants to play on a regular basis.
“I was happy with the girls’ hitting, of course, when they can get some massive hits it,” Schlechte said. “It boosts their confidence when they can hit hard like that.”
Stew-Stras took second place overall at this weekend’s Pana/Shelbyville Tournament, including a win over Effingham, which Schlechte said should even out the skill level of teams the Comets have played entering Friday’s opening matches in the conference tournament.
The Comets were 2-3 at Pana this weekend and Schlechte said she thought her team could’ve played harder – using the Comets’ two-set win over St. Anthony last week as a gauge for effort.
“I wish would could’ve played like we played for St. Anthony,” Schlechte said. “That’s the mindset they have to have every game and sometimes they don’t have that.”
Wednesday’s win allows the Comets to shift their focus to this weekend’s National Trail Conference tournament, where they are the No. 1 seed.
The Comets play seventh-seeded Windsor at 6 p.m. Friday at the Enlow Center, which is two hours before the start of their second game against sixth-seeded St. Elmo/Brownstown in Pool A.
Stew-Stras (16-8, 8-1 NTC) will be competing to represent Pool A in the Gold Flight on Saturday, where the three top teams will play to determine to conference champion.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stew-Stras 25 25
Ramsey 13 7
Stew-Stras: Schlechte (3 aces, 2 kills, 15 assists, 4 digs), Quast (2 aces, 2 kills, 6 assists, 2 digs), Knop (1 ace, 9 kills, 4 digs), Tabbert (7 kills, 4 digs), Burton (2 aces), Stremming (2 kills, 1 block), Locke (2 digs), Kaufman (1 ace, 3 kills, 2 digs)