STRASBURG — Megan Schlechte led Windsor/Stewardson-Strasburg to a second-place finish in Class 1A this season, racking up huge kills totals and setting records along the way.
What wasn't known was that the whole time, her foot hurt. Really bad.
“They thought my foot had a stress fracture at first but it was a bone bruise,” said Schlechte, this year's Herald & Review Area Volleyball Player of the Year. “I was in a boot and I had to sit out a lot of practices, but during the games I kind of zoned it out and I didn’t really think about it with the adrenaline and everything. So it didn’t bother me too much during games.”
Schlechte entered the state tournament with the second-highest kill total (490) among all-players in all classes and she set the single-match kill record with 29 during the Hatchets' semifinal game against Durand.
She may downplay it, but the pain was intense and had to be managed throughout the season. Although she was cleared to continue playing by doctors, Megan missed a lot of practice to rest her foot and powered through when it was time to play.
“Megan was in a boot for most of the season,” Windsor/Stewardson-Strasburg coach and Megan’s mother Ronda Schlechte said. “We thought she had a stress fracture so she was playing through a lot of pain. She is strong willed so she refused to sit out and you love that as a coach but as a parent you worry as far as taking care of the injury.”
Megan, whose sister Becca won the Herald & Review area player of the year last year, gave a lot of the credit for her outstanding season to her teammates, particularly setter Mackenzi Tabbert. The two worked on their communication all season.
“Mackenzie does a great job and we practiced a lot on connecting this year more and I think that helped us a lot," Megan said. "Our team defense was also really good and everyone really contributed."
The chemistry between the two was on full display at Redbird Arena against Durand. Not only did Schlechte set a state record for kills in state tournament match, but Tabbert set a Class 1A record for assists in a state tournament match with 48.
From her coach's perspective, Megan's game grew tremendously this season.
"She’s gotten stronger, she’s gotten more confident with her different hits and she’s just as valuable in the front row as she is in the back row with her attacking and her digging," Ronda said. "She can read the ball very well and is very athletic and fast. You just can’t ask much more from a player."
Knowing what Megan accomplished this year battling injury all season, optimism for next year is high.
“When I tell a person that she was injured through most of the season they say, ‘Wow, I would hate to play her at full force,'” Ronda said. “And that is what I’m hoping for for next year, that we can get past the injuries and see her at her full abilities.”