TURLOCK -- Caitlin Steffeck blocks negativity.
Her upbeat attitude has buoyed her in each of her seasons on the Cal State Stanislaus volleyball team.
The senior middle hitter has never enjoyed a .500 season with the Warriors. But even after Stanislaus (5-20) lost to Notre Dame de Namur (9-16) in four sets Wednesday, Steffeck had something positive to hang on to.
She set the program's record for blocks Friday against UC San Diego, surpassing Angie Tribble's total of 290 from 1997-2000. Wednesday, Steffeck recorded her 300th block with a solo stop.
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"It really felt great," Steffeck said of setting the record. "You always hear of players transferring or moving. I think it shows my loyalty to this team.
"It's like (head) coach (Chris Difani) says, you try to find one individual goal to help your team."
Stanislaus had defeated Notre Dame de Namur twice this season, but 15 service errors Wednesday contributed to a 30-22, 30-26, 24-30, 30-13 loss for the Warriors.
Stanislaus was called for 11 double touches and the Argonauts were called for 10. Debbie Vander Schaaf and Jen Gee each had eight kills for the Warriors.
Oakdale's Emily Evans, a senior at the Belmont school, led the Argonauts with 14 kills, including the match-winner.
This is the first week in almost a month that Stanislaus will not play a nationally-ranked opponent. The competition is one thing Steffeck points to when asked if her time at Stanislaus has been frustrating.
"Our conference is hard," Steffeck said. "Having the support of your teammates makes a difference. You can love volleyball all you want, but if you don't have the support of your teammates, you're not going to love the game."
The 6-foot-1-inch Steffeck has 79 blocks this year in 81 games. She credits fellow senior hitters Nicole Musso and Vander Schaaf for her success.
"I feel confident when they're next to me," Steffeck said. "A block is usually two people."
Difani counts the record as extra-special because of the kind of person Steffeck is and whom she knocked from the top spot.
"I played with Angie in club ball," Difani said. "Angie was an amazing player. Hopefully she's happy with she reads about it."
Since Difani took over the program three years ago, she has seen the biggest change in Steffeck. A complete 180-degree turnaround, Difani said.
Then a self-described "spastic" sophomore, Steffeck welcomed the new coach's instruction and committed herself to improving.
"She was young and raw and needed to be molded," Difani said. "Blocking is something she was always good at. Caitlin always wanted to get better."
The only suggestion Steffeck had a hard time with was letting go of her extra-curricular activities, such as being a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and Student Senate.
"I think one kid all the athletes know is Caitlin," Difani said. "She's working in the athletic office or selling cookies for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I said 'Let's calm that down a little,' my first year. I think she's really grown into herself."
Steffeck, a business major, said she learned to manage her time and balance commitments. She said she became a more mature player and person at Stanislaus, things she wouldn't trade for an undefeated season.
"Volleyball gave me so many opportunities," Steffeck said. "I got to play college volleyball and do something fun in college. It was a struggle a lot of times, but I got to practice with 16 of my best friends every day."
Difani said the season has been bittersweet. Records like Steffeck's, and the one Megan Britton is close to setting for digs in a single season, often get lost in the win-loss column.