• ‘Drill Team’ edges Slammin’ Jammin’ to take community tournament title
By Sean Pearson
While the timeless idiom “age before beauty” proved inaccurate at this year’s Alice Witte Alumni Volleyball match, the annual showdown between youth and experience certainly offered plenty of excitement for the crowd.
The Lady Mariner squad pushed past the alums in three games, 25-17, 25-21 and 25-15, to earn bragging rights for another year — but it wasn’t quite as easy as the final scores suggest.
“It was a really fun match, with lots of long rallies,” said Homer Head Coach Beth Trowbridge. “The alumni had some strong serving and great defensive plays that kept balls alive in a number of rallies.”
Trowbridge said the key to the varsity win was relaxed, focused play. The result was a 98 percent serving game and positive kill percentage by the offense.
“Very few errors were made both defensively and offensively,” Trowbridge said. “That was very nice to see.”
She added that the team has been working hard these past couple of weeks at getting back to volleyball basics and solidifying fundamentals.
“The girls are raising the bar for expectations for their teammates,” Trowbridge said. “They are pushing themselves out of their comfort zones and trying to perform at a higher level.”
Haley Oliver and Tayla Cabana led the Lady Mariner offense with seven kills apiece, followed by Kristie Mastre with five. Kayla Hutt had three kills for the evening, while Cayenna Anderson added two.
Caroline Decreeft ran the offense as the only setter and racked up 18 assists.
Trowbridge said Oliver was a defensive presence at the net as well, picking up three solo blocks and two assists. Cabana followed with two solo blocks and one assist, while Decreeft added a solo block.
Decreeft also led the team in serving, picking up two service aces, while Cabana and Anderson each added one.
Trowbridge said only one of her Lady M’s missed a serve the entire night.
In the backcourt, Maggie Koplin led the Homer defensive effort with 13 digs, followed by Mastre with nine. Miranda Beach had eight digs, while Anderson added seven and Decreeft had four.
Players on the alumni team included Jessica Marx, Michelle Borland, Jessie Erickson, Gretchen Duggar, Brooke DeVaney, Anita Decreeft and Robin Lohse.
The alumni match followed an entire day of the “Play Like Crazy” community volleyball tournament. Seven teams entered the tourney, ranging in age and abilities. Teams were recruited by Homer High volleyball players, who also coached them. Trowbridge said the players refereed and organized the entire tournament.
After three hours of round-robin play to determine seeding, teams squared off in a single-elimination tournament for the Play Like Crazy title.
The “Drill Team,” sponsored by Water Solutions and comprising several “older” players took first, followed by the Slammin’ Jammin’ team made up of mostly football team members in second. The Two Sisters team, sponsored by Two Sisters Bakery and made up of coed sophomore players, took third.
“I think it ended up being a really fun tournament for everyone involved,” Trowbridge said.
The Alumni match is played in honor of Alice Witte, who began the Homer High School volleyball program and coached with an inspiring “play like crazy” mindset. She passed away from breast cancer in 1994. Homer team members wore pink jerseys in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The Lady M’s travel to Skyview on Thursday to take on the Panthers in conference play. On Saturday, they host the Seward Seahawks at home.
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