SoHi sweeps Homer volleyball

The host Soldotna volleyball team warmed up for a big Friday showdown with Kenai Central by sweeping Homer in nonconference action Tuesday.

The Stars won 25-14, 25-13 and 25-13 to improve to 8-3 in nontournament play, while Homer fell to 2-4.

One of Homer’s losses came to Kenai last Thursday by a count of 23-25, 25-15, 25-15 and 25-18.

But, as is usually the case, comparing scores to get an idea of how Friday’s 6 p.m. match at Kenai will turn out doesn’t work that well.

Homer coach Pam Rugloski said her team was missing three varsity players Tuesday for various reasons.

The Mariners like to run a system using two setters, but that system had to be scrapped for Tuesday’s match because setter Sofia Ramirez-Clark sustained a concussion in the powderpuff football game that was part of last weekend’s homecoming celebration. Ramirez-Clark will be back for this weekend’s Grizzly Invitational in Anchorage.

That left McKi Needham to handle all the setting duties Tuesday.

“She did a great job running the team, but it’s hard to suddenly pick up a new system,” Rugloski said.

The Mariners also threw two freshmen into the mix. Kimberly Lynn started for the first time in a varsity match, while Calla Seay played in her first varsity match.

“Both came in and did an outstanding job,” Rugloski said. “They both had a good JV match and came out swinging in the varsity match.

“They both didn’t back down even though that would have been nerve-wracking for a lot of players.”

Rugloski said her squad made some nice plays on the night, but in the end made far too many errors. She had her team down for eight missed serves and 19 attacking errors.

“That’s it. That doesn’t explain the entire match, but it’s hard to win when you make that many errors, especially playing against a team like that,” said Rugloski, who also gave credit to Isabelle Hagge for digging up a lot of balls despite a migraine headache.

The Stars, meanwhile, were trying to sharpen their game before a big stretch of Northern Lights Conference matches, starting with Friday’s tangle with the Kards. After that, SoHi plays three matches in the Valley on Oct. 15, 16 and 17.

SoHi coach Sheila Kupferschmid said the focus Tuesday was defense, with mixed results, although she did credit Hallie Allen for a strong defensive match.

“Defense is always the focus,” Kupferschmid said.

The Stars also were trying to serve more aggressively and run a quicker offense.

“I think we served aggressively enough tonight that we were able to control the match with it,” Kupferschmid said.

In the first game, SoHi’s first four servers — Sylvia Tuisaula, Lindsey Wong, Makenna Rosin and Judah Aley — all used jump serves.

Aley’s jump serve was able to break open the game, with her nine straight points leading to a 14-6 lead.

“I’m not saying a jump serve is more effective than a down serve,” Kupferschmid said. “I think it helps them get on top of the ball, so it doesn’t go in the net as much.

“I also think they get more velocity because they are bringing more momentum into the serve.”

SoHi didn’t get a ton of chances to practice a quicker attack because Homer made a lot of errors.

But Aley led the charge when the offense ran, with seven kills and six other hits. She also led the team with 18 serves.

“She’s understanding about a faster arm swing and what to do with that,” Kupferschmid said. “A faster arm swing means more velocity.”

Rosin added eight hits for the Stars, while Drewe Zeek had four kills. Kupferschmid said the 6-foot-1 Zeek is in her first year of varsity and continues to improve.

Tuisaula had 16 serves for the Stars, while Wong had 13 serves, Shaylynn Zener had 10 serves and Rosin had seven serves.

Seward 3, Nikiski 1

The Seahawks picked up a crucial Southcentral Conference win Tuesday night over Nikiski on their home floor, winning with scores of 25-21, 25-19, 18-25 and 25-14.

Seward improved to 1-4 in conference play (1-6 overall), while Nikiski dropped to 3-2 in conference play (3-4 overall)

Using improved backline play, Seward got six kills from setters Maille Moriarty and Jessica Honebein. Chloey Baldwin added five kills, most coming in the final set of the night, while Michaela Osenga added four kills and two blocks and Jessica Fry added a kill and several digs.

“My starting two middles (Fry and Osenga) did really well, but our two setters (Moriarty and Honebein) really were hitting a lot tonight,” said Seward coach Jaime Frederickson.

Nikiski coach Stacey Segura said she felt her Bulldogs squad underestimated the scrappy Seahawks.

“I think the girls were off,” Segura said. “When our passing was working, our setting and hitting wasn’t, and whenever our setting and hitting was going, our defense wasn’t.”

Nikiski libero Lauren O’Brien reinforced the Bulldogs backline with 15 digs, while Emily Hensley provided 11 assists. On offense, Ayla Pitt had five kills and five blocks, Brittany Perry had four kills and Brianna Vollertsen notched two aces.

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