• Basargin leads Homer with 35 kills
By Sean Pearson
Any question as to who the team to beat is this year in 3A volleyball was answered clearly at the North/South Volleyball Tourney in Seward over the weekend.
The Grace Christian Grizzlies dominated the tourney, defeating Seward 25-23 and 25-18 in the championship match. Homer defeated Houston 28-26, 20-25 and 16-14 in the third-place match.
And, while the Lady Mariner varsity finished in an impressive second place after Friday’s round-robin play, last year’s State runner-up Grizzlies went undefeated.
“Our girls played well initially in the round robin, executing their defense better than they had the weekend before and being more aggressive on their offense,” said Homer Head Coach Beth Trowbridge. “The long day seemed to catch up with them against Seward in the first round of the double elimination late Friday night.”
Trowbridge said unforced hitting and serving errors made a difference during the first game, but the Lady M’s managed to rally to keep the second game close.
“We were missing one of our senior outside hitters, so some players were learning new positions,” she explained. “They gained valuable experience playing in the tournament, and it will pay off later in the season.”
After dropping two games against the Seahawks, Homer beat Houston in the quarterfinals, but then fell to Seward again in the semifinals, 17-25 and 14-25.
Trowbridge said the tournament provided a good opportunity for the Mariners to see Houston and Grace, two conference teams Homer will face in conference play later on in the season.
“I think the players felt good about their abilities coming into the tournament based on a solid showing at the Cordova Tournament,” Trowbridge said. “The girls had great communication and court coverage against Grace. They were flowing well on the court, calling balls and listening to each other; it was some impressive play against a very well-polished strong team.”
Zoia Basargin led the Lady Mariners with 35 kills, while Kyla Pitzman saw valuable front-row playing time and picked up 30 kills.
“I was very impressed with Kyla, who hasn’t played varsity level before,” Trowbridge said. “She took her game to a new level with hitting and defense.”
Larsen Fellows had nine kills, Jane Rohr had six, Hailey Hughes, five and Maryhana Bowe with four.
According to Trowbridge, Homer’s serving was a bit off, with the team serving at 85 percent. McKi Needham led the team with 11 service aces, followed by Fellows with 10 and 92 percent serving. Maggie Koplin had five aces and 100 serving, as well as leading the team in defensive digs and serve receive passing.
Defensively, Pitzman led the team with five solo blocks and one assist, while Bowe added three solo blocks and two block assists.
“It was exciting to see the potential of the team at various times throughout the weekend,” Trowbridge said. “Once some of the younger players gain a little more confidence and experience, we will be very competitive within the region.”
Trowbridge said her team learned the importance of consistency this weekend, as they saw success when they were able to focus, have consistent serving and play as a team.
“They struggled when they lost focus, missing serves and making unforced errors,” she explained. “But they recognize now when they are losing focus and giving up points. They worked well together to overcome some point deficits.”
Homer’s JV team fared well in the younger tournament, ending Friday’s round-robin play in third place, and beating Houston in the first round of tournament play to face Seward’s JV in the championship match.
Junior varsity Coach Lisa Fellows credited Aspen Daigle and Jenna Dragoo with steady passing in the back row and consistent strong serving. Isabel Beach led the team in kills.
The Lady M’s faced Skyview in their first conference match on Tuesday, but results were not available by press time.
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