FARMINGTON, Ill. – Decked out in their white “Steamer Screamer” T-shirts, fans of the Fulton High School volleyball team gave the Steamers a vocal advantage Tuesday and Thursday at the Illinois Class 2A Farmington Sectional, despite the two-hour trip.
And an escort by emergency vehicles as part of a caravan of fans upon their return to Fulton on Thursday night with the sectional championship trophy just gave further proof to the players that the team's late-season success is picking up.
“When they walk into the gym … we just kind of get more excited,” junior outside hitter Chelsea Lesniewski said. “It pumps us up more.”
With today's super-sectional much closer to home, the Steamers are hoping those fans again prove to be an equalizer when they take on an impressive Minonk Fieldcrest squad in Manlius, Ill.
“We love our fans,” senior setter-hitter Rachael Beiermann said. “We can't thank them enough. The fact that they take two buses and go all the way down here two hours, it's just an awesome feeling to know that people actually care and are willing to come down just to watch you play an hour-long volleyball game.”
The Steamers (15-17-3) are hoping the venue for tonight's 7 o'clock match – Bureau Valley High School, one of Fulton's rivals in the Three Rivers Conference – provides an advantage. No matter how well the Steamers are playing, they'll have their hands full against a team that boasts a 32-4-1 record.
“We know what the gym's like, and the fact that it's closer for us, our fans … a lot more of them will go,” Beiermann said.
“Hopefully, we have more people there,” Lesniewski said. “The more the better.”
One thing is sure. While they may be underdogs, the Steamers are playing as well as anyone right now, coming off sweeps of Orion and Abingdon-Avon at the sectional tournament.