By MEGAN PACER
Coming back from a Friday loss to Kenai Central to play with confidence, the Homer volleyball team topped the visiting Soldotna Stars three sets to one on Tuesday night in the Alice Witte Gymnasium in Homer.
Homer moved to 5-1 overall with scores of 25-15, 25-14, 24-26 and 25-13.
The Mariners controlled the first two sets, easily maintaining their lead in the first. In the second set, both teams struggled to take the lead, with the score being tied repeatedly up to 6-6. Homer then broke away, fueled by a number of aces from Laura Inama.
The Stars came back in the third set to challenge the Mariners, keeping the game close all the way to their two-point victory. But it wasn’t enough to keep the Mariners from running away with the fourth set and sealing the game.
Both Homer head coach Stephanie Carroll and Soldotna head coach Luke Baumer said mental errors plagued their teams Tuesday night. For Soldotna, in a building year, Baumer said the match against Homer was the first varsity away game for some of the younger players.
“(For) a lot of JV players coming up to varsity, it’s definitely a very intimidating thing,” he said. “Especially when we come to Homer. Homer’s a very difficult place to play in. The fans here are great — they keep the energy up really high for them. So even if we go on a run, we know it’s probably not going to last long.”
Baumer said the Stars did a good job adjusting during the game and working their control of the ball. The team’s serving game was more hit and miss, he said.
“When we’re on, I think we’re probably one of the best serving teams in the area for sure,” Baumer said. “But when we’re off, we’re definitely off.”
It’s easier for the younger players to get shaken by mistakes, making it harder to dig their way out.
“And then they’re in their own heads,” Baumer said. “And that was kind of the big thing for us tonight I think — it was a mental game today. … We definitely play a lot better than that.”
Carroll said the mental errors for Homer came in during the third set. But, she said the Mariners played with a lot more confidence after the Friday loss.
“Last weekend we had our younger girls going up against Kenai. It was the first like, they’re real big competition, so they were pretty nervous and kind of had a rough weekend,” Carroll said. “So this week I just told them to come out and play with confidence and they did.”
Carroll said the team’s passing game is getting better, but still isn’t as consistent as she’d like.
“Our serves were not as good last weekend, but they seem to have rebounded to where we’re good with our serves,” she said. “And they don’t give up on balls, as you could see there’s a lot of — when it goes into a scramble they usually do pretty good at keeping up with that.”
Baumer said Homer is the “scrappiest team” Soldotna has seen so far this season, and that theirs was also the best defense the Stars have seen so far.
On Tuesday, Inama lead the Mariners with nine kills, eight digs and four aces. Katlyn Vogl had five kills, four aces and two digs; Melanie Morris had five kills and one dig; Tonda Smude had four kills, two aces, one assist and six blocks; Gracie Gummer had four kills, one assist and two blocks; Amber Hull had two kills; Hannah Hatfield had nine assists, two aces and four digs, Brooke Shafer had seven assists, three aces and one dig; Sela Weisser had eight digs and an assist; and Lizzie Flodin and Zoe Adkins had two digs each.