The Deer Creek Antlers rallied around one of their own this weekend, overcoming outside heartbreak to win each of their matches and claim the championship at the Stillwater Invitational Tournament.
The varsity team began their tournament on Friday morning — less than 24 hours after all three of Deer Creek’s volleyball rosters attended a funeral after the unexpected passing of varsity member Haylee Harris’ mother.
After two clean-swept victories over Bartlesville and the Oklahoma Storm started Stillwater’s tournament, the emotions may have caught up to the team — just for a brief second — said head coach Lisa Polcovich.
Tournament Champions! Going 5-0, congrats to Maddie Manning & Teagan Polcovich for making the All Tournament Team! Go Creek! pic.twitter.com/4M1iOX2xo3— DCHS Volleyball (@DeerCreekVolley) September 21, 2019
“I honestly did not know what kind of team we would have out there,” Polcovich said Monday. “The energy level was a little lower and there wasn’t as much enthusiasm. We played well enough, you could just tell there was a little struggle going on.”
That struggle manifested into their only set-loss of the entire bracket. After a 25-18 opening frame against Tulsa Union, and following a 25-22, 25-14 and 25-17 win against aforementioned Bartlesville, Deer Creek struggled to keep pace before falling 21-25 in their second match’s second set.
After that, though, the sets all went blue.
The Antlers roasted hosting Stillwater in their first game on Saturday, outscoring them 25-14 in the first set. The second and third frames were a bit closer — 25-21 and 29-27 — but Stillwater couldn’t take a side from the Antlers. Then Creek routed Yukon by 26 total points in just three sets of play to claim the tournament championship.
The way the team handled the tournament — and all the outside emotions that came with it — had left Polcovich proud of her team’s camaraderie.
“I was just really proud of our girls. It was a very emotional weekend,” she said. “You could just tell how much they were playing for each other out there, the love they had for Haylee.”
Deer Creek’s Teagan Polcovich and Maddison Manning were named to the bracket’s All-Tournament Team after the championship claim. Polcovich had 71 kills total this weekend, with her best game attacking-wise coming in Saturday’s championship against Yukon. There she’d score 17 kills on just one error. She also scored 14 on both Union and Stillwater to cap off a 16- and 10-kill match against the Storm and Bartlesville, respectively.
Manning, meanwhile, passed at a 2.2 passer rating for the entire weekend tournament.
Polcovich said her two All-Tournament competitors stood out because they don’t ever take an opponent for granted.
“They’re just competitors,” she said. “They just compete and never really give up. They have the same demeanor pretty much no matter who we are playing.”
That demeanor may have come easy on Tuesday night, where the Antlers met rival Edmond Santa Fe for a regular season match in Santa Fe’s competition gymnasium. Santa Fe themselves had a first-place finish at their Jenks Invitational this weekend, too. The match was scheduled for 6 p.m.