200 wins in any sport is no easy accomplishment, but the Marlington Lady Dukes volleyball head coach has joined the 200-win club following a three-set sweep (25-10, 25-22 & 25-19) of the Triway Titans Saturday afternoon.
With an impressive head coaching tenure spanning 13 seasons since her start in 2011-2012, Stephanie Tortola continues to see success year after year.
“It’s pretty exciting today to actually win especially with a clean sweep,” Coach Tortola said after her 200th victory with Marlington. “Triway’s a nice team. It was really nice to win today with a lot of these girls because I’ve known a lot of them since they were 11 because I coached them in club.”
Before joining Marlington, Tortola honed her coaching skills by leading the varsity volleyball and basketball teams at Heritage Christian. However, it is at Marlington where she has truly left her mark.
Over the course of the last six seasons, Tortola’s volleyball teams have won their respective conference championship.
It wasn’t always sunshine and roses, especially in the beginning, for Tortola. Her first season in 2011 results in a 9-8 record, but the next two seasons were both losing, with five wins, followed by six wins the next season. Ever since then, Marlington hasn’t had any less than 15 wins in a season.
“My first year wasn’t too bad because I had like seven seniors,” she said. “But then the next three years were really challenging. We just really needed to kind of grow the program from the ground up and that’s what I did. I just invested a lot of time in the youth and started a youth program.”
While achieving success at the conference level, Tortola’s ambition extends beyond mere accolades. The coach has set her sights on improving the team’s performance on the regional stage.
Despite clinching the district championship in 2015, 2017, and 2022, Tortola and her team were unable to make it over the hump and out of the regional playoffs during those years. This season, Tortola is determined to lead her players toward a breakthrough, aiming to surpass previous accomplishments.
“We had end-of-the-season meetings last year with each girl and told them things that they needed to work on in the offseason and the summer. And those girls really went and worked hard,” Coach Tortola noted. “I really do feel like this is my best all the way around team and we don’t really have a weak spot. I think that’s what’s going to carry us to the next level.”
Reflecting on her coaching journey, Tortola’s best record year came during the 2019-2020 season. With a remarkable 23-2 record, the team showcased their exceptional talent. Although their quest for a district championship fell short against Canfield in the finals, Tortola’s leadership and ability to foster a winning culture were undeniable.
Beyond the numbers and victories, Tortola’s commitment to the program shines through her tireless efforts. She has dedicated countless hours and poured boundless energy into shaping the Marlington volleyball team into a force to be reckoned with. Her passion for the sport and her unwavering support for her players have undoubtedly left a lasting impact on the program.
“We’ve had some great athletes come through. We’ve had quite a few collegiate players, too,” Coach Tortola said.
As Tortola celebrates her 200th win, it is a testament to her coaching abilities, perseverance, and the strong foundation she has built at Marlington. With each victory, she not only adds to her impressive record but also inspires her players to strive for greatness both on and off the court.
Coach Tortola credits many of her former players for the success of the Lady Dukes and for helping to build the culture over the last decade plus.