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Stefanie Wigfall gave birth, then coached Sierra Canyon to girls’ volleyball title

Sierra Canyon High girls' volleyball coach Stefanie Wigfall talkes to her team during a timeout.
(Jose Montanez)
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A couple times, Stefanie Wigfall had to do the unthinkable and walk away.

In early August, her doctor gave her orders to lay as low as possible. So the Chatsworth Sierra Canyon High girls’ volleyball coach tried to prop herself up. She clutched her waterbottle. Elevated her feet. But curiosity overcame her, and she tuned into the livestream of the season-opening Ann Kang tournament.

Stress, though, is not particularly good for someone pregnant with their second child. So, begrudgingly, she had to flip a couple matches off. And the guilt pressed in, guilt she couldn’t be there with her players and her husband, assistant coach Darrin Phillips.

“It’s much harder than I ever imagined,” Wigfall said, “not being there.”

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She had her baby Aug. 18. Originally, she anticipated she’d be out about a month for maternity leave.

Wigfall missed one more match before rejoining the team.

“That wasn’t the plan,” she said in November. “But I couldn’t be away.”

From the beginning of the season, she knew her Trailblazers had the potential to be something special. And for her dedication in raising a newborn while leading Sierra Canyon to an unexpected Southern Section Division 1 championship, Wigfall has been selected The Times’ girls’ volleyball coach of the year.

She found depth to build around senior opposite hitter and Pittsburgh commit Olivia Babcock, her team maintaining composure in big games and boasting a stifling defense that wore out high-powered opposing offenses.

The program, Wigfall said, has constantly felt like it’s clawing for respect. The team earned its place among Southern California’s elite this season, going 35-5 and finishing 3-0 in the new Southern Section Division 1 pool-play format before sweeping favored Manhattan Beach Mira Costa in three sets to win the championship.

Mira Costa setter Charlie Fuerbringer is The Times’ girls’ volleyball player of the year. A look at the team and Stefanie Wigfall, coach of the year.

The team had “been through a lot,” Wigfall said, with her being out at the beginning of the season. She worried her absence would throw off the players. That they wouldn’t be enough. Do enough.

“We’ve proven everyone wrong,” Wigfall said.


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