A little over a year ago, Lara Stremplewski briefly thought her volleyball career was over.
A junior at the time, Stremplewski had just been cut after tryouts at Marist.
However, the outside hitter then started to think about how much the sport meant to her. She couldn’t be done.
Transferring to St. Laurence after her junior year, Stremplewski continued to make her presence felt, ripping 7 kills as the host Vikings took down Rich Central 25-16, 25-18 on Sept. 11 in a nonconference matchup.
“It was pretty tough getting cut. Life throws you some curveballs,” Stremplewski said. “You’ve got to pick it up. You can’t feel bad for yourself. You’ve got to keep pushing.”
Along with the Jasica sisters of Mt. Greenwood, senior Reagan and freshman Ryanne, Stremplewski has been a key hitter for the Vikings through the first three weeks of the season.
Having sat out a year, she loves being back on the court.
“When I got cut, I thought ‘OK, I’m done,’” Stremplewski said. “The more I thought and talked to my parents and friends, I realized this is for me. I can’t give up.”
Helping St. Laurence climb out of an early 9-5 hole in the second set, Stremplewski’s back-to-back kills tied the score at 10.
However, her biggest swing came after the Rich Central front line blocked one of her hits, bringing the Olympians to within a point at 17-16.
Nonetheless, Stremplewski wasn’t going to let one block slow her down. On the next play, she went up at the identical spot against two blockers but pushed the ball toward the middle and past the defense for the point.
St. Laurence closed on an 8-2 run for the win.
“They’ve got some big blockers up there,” Stremplewski said. “I couldn’t just hit through them. You’ve got to find a different way to score a point. I figured a tip would work.”
St. Laurence Assistant Coach Kathleen Miller said Stremplewski helps round out the Vikings rotation.
“Lara is a great six-rotation player for us. We never want her to leave the court,” Miller said. “As a passer, hitter and leader, she is just rock solid. She adds a ton of options for us.”
Miller is coaching the Vikings while Ellen Yopchick is on maternity leave after having twins on Aug. 30.
Also contributing for the Vikings were the Jasica sisters, Reagan leading the way with 8 kills, 10 digs and 3 aces and Ryanne adding 6 kills, including an impressive back-row attack late in the second set.
St. Laurence improved to 4-1 with the victory.
For Reagan Jasica, a three-year varsity starter, the team’s success is easy to explain.
“Our communication has definitely gotten better each game,” she said. “We’re working together more. We hype each other up instead of getting mad.”
Ryanne Jasica, a 5’11” freshman outside hitter, leads the team with 38 kills through 5 matches with her sister close behind at 29. Stremplewski has 19 kills.
“Ryanne doesn’t act like a freshman, and she looks like an upperclassman and acts like one,” Reagan Jasica said. “She’s comfortable. Me being on the team, I think, has helped ease her in.”
Sophomores Alicia Jara (11 assists) and Brianna Rios (7 digs, 3 aces) and senior Addison Sopko (10 assists) also contributed against Rich Central.