When Coach Lisa Zielinski appeared on the volleyball scene at STA 30 years ago, the team usually won about half of its games and had not seen many play-off seasons. By engaging in a culture of discipline and expectation, the Lady Raiders have evolved into a powerhouse, winning three consecutive state championships and appearing in a state semifinal in the past four years.
Coach Zielinski said, "Players are expected to perform in the classroom as well as on the court. The level of competitiveness in our gym is contagious. All our players hold each other to a higher standard." Adding spinning to their training regimen helps with endurance and overall fitness and complements their grueling practice schedule.
Over 40 players have left volleyball at STA to play at the college level, many in premiere schools such as Pepperdine and Wake Forest. Class of 2005 graduate Foluke Akinradewo has remained on the national team since her career at Stanford, winning silver and bronze in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and World Championship gold in 2014 as a member of the USA team.
Throughout the years, STA has viewed Venice as its state rival, losing in the 2012 state championship and the 2017 semifinal after beating the Indians in the 2004 state game. Locally, the Lady Raiders can count on Cardinal Gibbons to give them a good game where both teams always play to their potential.
Going out-of-state tournaments in venues such as Chicago and Arizona "allows us to play the strongest competition. It puts us in a different environment and prepares us for our post season on the road," Coach Zielinski said.
Several leaders on the 2017 team reflect the camaraderie on their team. Paula Cerame, headed to the University of Florida, said, "Even though we did not end our season the way we wanted, the team chemistry was the best we've ever had." Boston College commit Derry Costigan said, "I am beyond proud to be a part of such an amazing groups of girls.... We have left the legacy that is STA Volleyball, and I wouldn't trade that experience for the world." And Valeria Santeusanio echoed similar sentiments: "The team definitely acts as a backbone of support for me, and that's what I loved about my volleyball career at STA."
Congratulations to Coach Zielinski and her fantastic team for another great season and many more to come.
- 7 consecutive state tournament appearances since 2011
- 14 state appearances since 1988 under Coach Zielinski
- 27 district tournament wins since 1991
- Coach Zielinski's record: 769-156