• Homer to host Peninsula Challenge tourney this weekend
By Sean Pearson
An unusually rowdy crowd of volleyball fans turned out at Alice Witte Gymnasium on Friday to cheer on their Lady Mariners against the Nikiski Lady Bulldogs. The support proved relatively beneficial early on, as the two teams traded leads and momentum swings through all four sets.
Perhaps just a little more Homer rowdiness would have pushed the Lady M’s right over the top. Unfortunately, they came up short, falling 22-25, 25-22, 19-25 and 24-26.
In the fourth set, Homer was leading 24-18 for game point, but allowed Nikiski to take over the game with eight straight points.
“We rallied to come back and overtake Nikiski, but then lost the next eight points on a series of errors and loss of confidence,” said Homer Head Coach Beth Trowbridge. “It was very disappointing to be so close to taking the match to five games, and then let it slip away.”
“I was almost positive we had that game,” said senior hitter Tayla Cabana. “Our team just needs to stay focused and work on keeping a strong and positive mental attitude.”
Trowbridge said the loss is good learning opportunity.
“We need to remember how this feels and then work on maintaining our confidence and playing to win,” she said. “It’s difficult sometimes for a team to learn to finish games. We are working to build our ball-handling skills while increasing our confidence to be able to make plays in many different situations.”
Trowbridge said she was happy with the team’s communication — something they worked on the week before the match.
“We had many moments of good, aggressive play,” she said. “We were able to execute a powerful offense at times, but allowed ourselves to let up on back-row defense. That hurt us in the end.” Homer’s serving improved to 92 percent as a team, with McKi Needham and Hailey Hughes each serving at 100 percent individually. Zoia Basargin served at 92 percent with three aces, followed by Larsen Fellows with 91 percent serving and two aces.
Trowbridge said Basargin had a flawless offensive game, picking up a team-high 11 kills and no errors.
Senior Tayla Cabana had 10 kills, while Jane Rohr added four and Fellows and Hughes each added three. Fellows also dished up 13 assists, while McKi Needham had eight.
Defensively, Basargin led the team with three solo blocks, one block assist and 14 digs. Kyla Pitzman added two solo blocks and Maggie Koplin had 12 digs.
The Lady M’s faced Skyview Tuesday night, but results from the match were not available by press time.
This weekend, Homer hosts Kenai, Kodiak and Cordova for the 2013 Peninsula Challenge Tournament. Round-robin play kicks off Friday night, with a double-elimination tournament starting Saturday. Trowbridge said she thinks her girls are ready.
“We have been focusing on consistent serving and ball-handling so we can keep more balls in play during rallies,” she said. “The girls enjoy a good competitive challenge and are playing really well together. They work hard and are very supportive of each other.”
“Volleyball season has been so much fun,” Cabana said. “I think we have much potential to a great team. We just have to keep working at it.”
Homer’s match against Seward has been rescheduled to Oct. 24.
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