The Century Patriots enter the state tournament on Thursday as the clear favorites, undefeated on the season, but not without a few bumps in the road on their quest to their 8th state title.
It’s one thing to have a perfect record entering the final week of the season. It’s another thing when that team, the Century Patriots, still feel like they haven’t played their best.
“We’ve had a tough West Region and conference this year,” says head coach Jamie Zastoupil. “And I think that we’ve come back from being down sets. We’ve come back from being down points. And I think that that’s huge in your ability to bounce back from that is what you’re going to find success in, in the postseason hopefully.”
The perfect record has been fueled by the depth at each position. Zastoupil saying this is the deepest team she’s coached in years.
“You look down the bench and we’re so blessed to have people that we’ve had,” Zastoupil says. “And I think in a year like this when you’ve had kids out on quarantine, we’ve lost somebody to an ACL, we’re able to fill in with so many different avenues, whether we needed to block, whether we needed the swing, and however we need that, we have that ability to throw somebody in.”
Many of these players say that talent comes from a culture driven by competition within themselves.
“We’ve always been really competative, leading up to fifth grade, middle school, high school,” says senior Megan Klein. “There’s always been that competative drive and we’ve always wanted to push each other and make each other better.”
One player that has made a huge impact is junior Macy Fridgen, who has emerged as a force in the middle.
“Every practice, we start with our wrist snap,” says junior Macy Fridgen. “And we get up on the boxes and that’s the thing we really try and focus on so we can get that ball down.”
She, like so many others, have provided Century with a dangerous edge, options.
“The more ability we have to spread that ball around, the more you can keep the other side guessing on who’s going to get the ball,” says Zastoupil. “And it leaves us open a little bit more.”
But some of these players will play on the biggest stage for the first time, a place this senior class says wants to end differently than last year.
“I think from last year, suffering that loss, getting that second place on everybody who was a part of that,” Klein says. “I think it just makes us want it more for sure and gives us a little bit more drive and that would mean the world for us.”