She puts the hammer down

Drumright hopes to follow through and cap Lowell’s year with 11th straight title

When it happens, Stephanie Drumright is so sure she doesn’t even have to see the volleyball slam against the floor.

The set will sit in the air for a split-second before the Lowell middle hitter hammers her right arm down on it. If she hits it well, Drumright knows she has put the point away as soon as she makes contact.

And more often than not, the 5-foot-11 senior is jumping up and down in celebration of another emphatic kill and turning to thank the teammate who set her up.

“I can tell you, that feeling never gets old,” Drumright said. “After a shot like that, I can feel the adrenaline moving through my body and it carries over into the next point. It’s incredible.”

Drumright has been in the middle of everything (literally and figuratively) this year for a Lowell girls’ volleyball team that managed to make it through the Academic Athletic Association regular season undefeated.

Now, the top-seeded Cardinals (10-0 AAA) begin their quest for an 11th consecutive league championship, opening the playoffs at home against No. 4 Galileo (7-3) today at 5:15 p.m. In the other semifinal, No. 2 Balboa (9-1) hosts No. 3 Lincoln (8-2) at 4 p.m.

“The girls were ecstatic to finish the league season undefeated,” Lowell coach Reva Vrana said. “And they feel confident that they’ve put a ton of hard work and are ready for this nextchallenge.”

Drumright is proof positive of the benefits of logging some extra court time. Like most Lowell players, she spent her first two seasons on the frosh-soph team, but really came into her own after making the San Francisco Juniors club team in the spring of her sophomore year.

“My coach for that team [Chris Lee] taught me everything I know,” Drumright said. “And playing with them really gave me the confidence I needed to be ready to step up here.”

Although Vrana has not yet compiled Lowell’s season stats, she said Drumright is the team leader in kills. Drumright was all-league last season and is among the top candidates for the league’s most valuable player award this year.

“Stephanie is a very self-driven person and that’s motivated her to succeed,” Lowell senior libero Helene Servillon said. “When she joined the team, she was one of the least experienced players and now, as she’s leaving, she’s at the top.”

Servillon is another of the team’s leaders who, like Drumright, is looking to continue playing volleyball in college. Her tenacity and willingness to sacrifice her body has impressed first-year coach Vrana.

“To be a libero takes a mentality that ‘everything is mine,’” Vrana said. “And you have to be fearless and aggressive and smart and Helene is all of those.”

Other team leaders include junior reverse side Jessica Drumright (Stephanie’s sister) and hitter Karrie Liu, along with setters Katrina Lau and Taryn Wong.

“We’re so pumped for the playoffs,” Drumright said. “We want that 11th straight championship.”

AAA PLAYOFFS

TODAY’S SEMIFINALS

» No. 4 Galileo at No. 1 Lowell, 5:15 p.m.

» No. 3 Lincoln at No. 2 Balboa, 4 p.m.

THURSDAY’S CHAMPIONSHIP

» Semifinal winners at Kezar Pavilion, 7 p.m.

melliser@examiner.com

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