Soldotna’s Aliann Schmidt attacks against Homer on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Aliann Schmidt attacks against Homer on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna volleyball sweeps Homer

The Soldotna volleyball team flaunted their early season power Tuesday night in a nonconference meeting with Homer at Soldotna High School.

The Division I Stars breezed to a 3-0 match victory over the Division II Mariners, winning with scores of 25-16, 25-13 and 25-14.

Aside from a sluggish start to the evening, the Stars dispatched the Mariners with a stout defensive showing, allowing SoHi head coach Sheila Kupferschmid to get some of her younger players precious playing time.

“We needed that,” Kupferschmid said.

Senior Carsen Brown took charge of the offense with 28 assists for SoHi, while junior Holleigh Jaime had 11 digs to lead the defense.

Junior middle hitter Aliann Schmidt led the attack with nine kills while junior outside Bailey Leach pumped in seven kills and junior Ituau Tuisaula notched four kills with five aces. Kupferschmid said Leach’s play at the net kept Homer off balance all night.

“She was putting balls down on the floor pretty consistently,” Kupferschmid said. “That helped me to put in my younger kids.”

Younger players like sophomore Morgan Bouschor, who Kupferschmid said provided a good jump serve.

Difficulty in containing SoHi’s offensive attack made it hard for Homer to string together points as SoHi built up comfortable leads in each set, and communication miscues only added to the mistakes.

First-year Homer head coach Sara Pennington said her Mariners squad struggled with Soldotna’s hot-hitting attack, which she attributes to mental errors.

“We didn’t have the drive,” Pennington said. “We definitely beat ourselves.”

Pennington said the Homer service game was a bright spot for the team, noting senior setter Brianna Hetrick’s performance. Hetrick finished with nine assists and three digs, as well as two kills and two aces on offense.

“(Brianna) was getting the ball up well,” Pennington said. “We just couldn’t finish it.”

Junior middle Marina Carroll brought down three kills and notched five digs as well, while junior outside Karmyn Gallios had three kills and four digs.

Homer dropped to 10-10 overall with the loss.

The Mariners took charge early in the first set by staking out a 15-12 lead on the home team, getting attacks from Tonda Smude and Laura Inama that pushed the pace.

A timeout, however, allowed the Stars to recharge and take command with a 10-1 run that put them in front 22-16 by the time Homer called time. SoHi finished on an 8-0 kick to win it with three of the final points coming on kills from Leach.

The second set had a similar feel to the first, with Homer grabbing a 6-4 early lead that was capped with a kill point by Carroll.

But SoHi answered back on the strength of Tuisaula’s service game. Tuisuala racked up several points on serves that Homer had a tough time handling.

“I thought Ituau helped get us going with her serving,” Kupferschmid added. “The kids overall applied what they’ve learned in practice.”

A 13-3 run by SoHi forced Homer to call timeout with the Stars leading 17-9, and from there, Schmidt joined Tuisaula in raining down blows on the unsteady Homer defense to take the set and lead 2-0 in the match.

The third set was characterized by a crucial 5-0 run by SoHi that put the Stars up 7-3 thanks to more serving points by Tuisuala. The Stars led 14-7 at the first timeout, and when Homer threatened to make a run by cutting it to 19-13, SoHi closed out strong with four unanswered points to grab a 23-13 lead. The set was won on a point by Schmidt.

Homer’s Tonda Smude goes up for a block against Soldotna on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Tonda Smude goes up for a block against Soldotna on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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