James, Rhoades and Wilkin were named first-team All-Three Rivers, with Wilkin being named conference MVP and James earning team MVP honors. Boonstra, Adams and Phillips were named to the second team.
They won their first four matches that fall before splitting with Polo at the Thomson Invitational. Seventeen consecutive wins followed before they suffered the lone regular-season loss in a three-set match against Davenport Assumption at the Northeast Invitational.
The Steamers closed the regular season with six straight wins, then beat Sterling Newman and Rockridge in the Riverdale Regional; Cambridge and Rock Falls in the Westmer Sectional; and Sciota West Prairie in the Abingdon SuperSectional to earn a spot in the Elite Eight.
“It was the best feeling in the world that night,” Germann said of beating West Prairie 25-15, 11-25, 25-23.
But, getting to the state quarterfinals that year wasn’t really a surprise. The 2002 squad compiled a 30-2-2 record and lost a three-set match to Lena-Winslow in the supersectional.
“I remember sitting down as a sophomore,” Tanzillo said. “We went down to state to watch, and we said we could be here next year. We printed a picture of the state floor. At practice, we knew that was our goal, and it was cool because we achieved our goal.”
Germann said: “It would have been disappointing (not to get to state). We wanted to be there the year before. I think that gave us more fuel for the fire.”
But for all the wins on the court, the best memories of the 2003 season came off the court for Tanzillo.
“Honestly, the absolute best was — I loved playing, but — the bus rides together, the fun things we did as a team,” she said. “Coach Germann set it up so we’d go to a church for breakfast on game days, and we did that this morning.”
Even though Tanzillo said she still saw many of the players since about half of them reside in the area, getting together as a team again was special.
She had just one complaint about the festivities.
“We said nobody should see the video of how we looked 10 years ago,” she said.