Steinhaus dishes out a grand assist

FACILITATOR — Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman setter Lydia Steinhaus (42) sets the ball for teammate Michaelah Petrowiak (25) for a kill. Marah Engel (32) watches the action. Steinhaus dished out her 1,000th career assist in the match after playing the role of the Jaguars’ main facilitator for the past three seasons. (Photo by Greg Abel)

When Lydia Steinhaus walked into Martin Luther High School Tuesday, she had no idea what she was about to see.

She walked in to view signs being made reading “Congrats Lou Lou, 1,000,” letting Steinhaus know she was nearing the 1,000 career volleyball assist mark.

“As a freshman, Hannah Johanson got her 1,000th assist and it was a really big moment for her. Looking at my assist record last year, I didn’t think I was going to get there, I didn’t think I was going to be able to have that moment,” Lydia Steinhaus said. “This year, I didn’t know it was coming.

“Today (Tuesday) I walked into the art room and they were making posters and I was like, ‘No way, I’m there?’ It was surprising and kind of uplifting that our team has improved so much to the point where I can get there. It’s not just me, that means our team has had 1,000 kills together, I couldn’t get that by myself.”

The moment came in the second game of the Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman Jaguars’ Valley Conference matchup with St. Clair in Northrop on Tuesday night.

Lydia entered the match only three set assists away and had assisted teammate Michaelah Petrowiak in the first game. She assisted Petrowiak again, before setting a ball into the front left corner of the Jaguars court where Marah Engel was waiting to tap it past a St. Clair block and into the center of the Cyclones’ side of the court.

The game paused as Jaguar head coach Paul Steinhaus came out to hug Lydia and present her with a game ball, while an announcement went over the PA system.

The St. Clair players, Lydia’s Jaguar teammates and the crowd all stood and cheered while she took in the moment on the court.

Paul Steinhaus said he needed to be reminded the 1,000th assist was coming up.

“Honestly I didn’t even know it was happening. I had a different dad from the program ask, ‘Is she gonna get it?’ And I said, ‘Oh, I should maybe look,'” Paul Steinhaus said. “It was something we kind of expected to happen this season and I don’t know if it’s just some of the craziness of the sets of circumstances we were dealing with, but I never even thought about it. Neither did she, we were just focused on playing volleyball.

“It is nice to reach a milestone like that, it says a lot about what you’ve done over the course of your career and how you’ve helped other people because with assists, somebody’s gotta kill the ball. You need a lot of help, but because of her persistence to be a good teammate, this is a feather in the hat on that effort and that work. It’s definitely a moment to be proud.”

With a volleyball coach for a father, Lydia Steinhaus has never been far from the game.

She said her earliest memories of volleyball where seeing really tall people in front of the net and never imagining she would be one of them, while spending her time at volleyball games coloring.

Lydia said as she’s grown with volleyball taking a big role in her life, she learned what position she could help the team most from, even if it wasn’t what she considered herself best at playing.

“I’ve been setting since fifth grade just because I’m loud and can tell people where to go pretty much,” Lydia Steinhaus said with a laugh. “Then once I got to high school, I realized it wasn’t really my biggest talent on the floor, but I was there to help lead the team so even though I felt it wasn’t my best spot, it’s where I stepped in.”

And stepping in worked. In her sophomore year, Lydia took over the starting setter position and has been adding up assists ever since.

She said the moment she got her 1,000th assist came as a surprise.

“It wasn’t until I set that ball and he (Paul Steinhaus) stopped the game, I just thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve been setting so poorly today. Why did it have to be today?'” Lydia Steinhaus said with a laugh. “I’m just proud of our team for pulling through to the end.

“I couldn’t do it without my team. We’ve really improved this year, last year I didn’t think I was going to get here and this year, our team really stepped up and was really able to piece together and support each other.”

As a team leader, Lydia said the growth of the Jaguars this year makes her proud. She said last year they were just six players playing a game, but this year they have become a team. And the coming together has helped lead the Jaguars to a 6-12 overall record and a 4-4 record in Valley Conference play.

With her final high school volleyball season nearing its end, Lydia will spend time on the basketball court and softball field for the remaining months of her senior year, but she said volleyball is her favorite of the sports she plays.

After that, she said she would love to keep playing volleyball, but it wont be her main priority.

Paul Steinhaus had just one thing left to add.

“Dad’s proud,” Paul said. “It’s fun to see hard work and ethic put in and to have that be rewarded, it’s just awesome stuff.”