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Making an outside impact

A move to outside hitter has benefited Megan Stephenson and has Burroughs in the hunt for a league championship

October 08, 2011|By Jeff Tully, jeff.tully@latimes.com

Megan Stephenson experienced a substantial move over the summer.

Even before the Burroughs High girls' volleyball team lost two key players from last season — one quitting the squad and one going down with an injury — Coach Edwin Real had a change in the works for the senior.

To maximize Stephenson's athletic abilities, and to take advantage of her potent swing, Real moved the standout from the middle to the prominent position of outside hitter.

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"When we practice and Megan is going up to hit, the players are moving out of the way; I'm moving out of the way," Real said. "She has that much power in her swing. She is such a versatile player now because she played in the middle last year. If we need her to do more blocking up front, she can do that … the move was to utilize Megan's strengths."

Stephenson said she enjoys her new position and was willing to make the change if it was for the betterment of the Indians.

"I'm having fun this season," said Stephenson, a first-team All-Pacific League selection in 2010 who averaged 15 kills a match. "I love my position of hitting, and it's really satisfying when you can get a kill down and score a point for your team. It's really fun to play on the outside."

The move has paid big dividends this season for Burroughs. Stephenson, along with talented teammates Catarina Emerson, Victoria Santos, Tessa Dudley, Keana Figueroa and Laura Howard, have the Indians in the hunt for the program's first league championship in four years.

With a four-game win Thursday against cross-town rival Burbank, the Indians — ranked No. 7 in CIF Southern Section Division II-A — are 11-3 overall and 7-0 in league. The game surrendered to the Bulldogs is the only one given up by Burroughs in league this season.

Stephenson has been a driving force for the team. She has tallied 206 kills and is averaging 17.2 kills a match. In 12 contests, Stephenson has double-digit kill totals in 10 and has matches where she's tabulated 29, 25, 27 and 21.

Joining the varsity team as a sophomore two years ago, Real said Stephenson struggled to keep pace. But through perseverance and hard work, the coach said he has seen a dramatic progression in Stephenson's skills as a player, her approach to the game and her overall volleyball knowledge over the two-year period.

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