The host Soldotna volleyball team opened up Northern Lights Conference play Thursday by dropping a match to Colony in four sets.
“I’m happy with the way we played,” Soldotna coach Luke Baumer said. “We saw that we can hang with one of the best teams in the conference.”
The scores were 25-13, 25-18, 22-25 and 31-29.
This was the first best-of-five-set match for the Stars this season. After a 2020 season that was abbreviated and limited to Kenai Peninsula competition, Baumer said his squad is still lacking a lot of experience even though there are six seniors on the roster.
“We have players that have played quite a bit of varsity, but they weren’t starters and they played at different positions,” he said.
The Stars struggled in the first two sets.
“We were struggling to make things click for us,” Baumer said. “We were making a lot of errors on our side. We were killing ourselves in those first two sets.”
Baumer said Colony and coach Steve Reynolds took advantage.
“Steve Reynolds is an absolute mastermind,” Baumer said. “They’re big, fast and they run the ball quick on net.”
SoHi prepared for that and Baumer said it started showing in the third set.
“It’s a credit mainly to our serving,” the coach said. “It kept us in the match and kept them out of system.”
Baumer added a large, homecoming-week crowd helped sustain momentum.
“A huge factor was the crowd tonight,” he said. “They were absolutely outstanding and they kept us in the match. Out of all the years I’ve coached at SoHi, I’ve never seen the gym like that before. It was huge.”
Soldotna had 13 aces, led by four from Jolie Widaman.
Katelyn Morrison had nine kills, while Chloe Armstrong added seven. Baumer said the two athletic outside hitters show a lot of promise.
Aleena Zener had 15 digs, Emma Brantley had 17 assists and Adarra Hagelund had five blocks.
“In my opinion, they can hang with the top teams in the region if they believe they can do it,” Baumer said of his squad. “They have to continue to make sure they’re staying together and finding that chemistry.”