The host Soldotna volleyball team notched a 20-25, 25-16, 25-22, 24-26 and 18-16 victory over Nikiski on Friday.
Soldotna coach Luke Baumer said he lost a lot of experience from last season, bringing back only two starters.
“We told them to not look at the scoreboard or look at this as a win or a loss,” Baumer said. “We’re here to look at this as experience to get the technique we’ve been teaching them down early in the season. By midseason, we’ll be a well-developed team.”
Baumer said he thought the Stars won more because of fortune than because they were the better team. He said Nikiski showed up ready to play a SoHi team everybody loves to beat and nearly pulled it off.
Baumer also said his team was happy just to be playing. This was SoHi’s first match of the year and Nikiski’s second. The start of the season was delayed by high COVID-19 cases on the central peninsula.
“The kids were just ready to have some normal part of the school year,” Baumer said. “The girls have been waiting all summer long to do something.”
Nikiski, like Soldotna, lost a number of star players from last season. The Bulldogs were swept by Kenai Central on Thursday, but coach Stacey Segura said the Bulldogs took a step forward against Soldotna.
“I was very surprised,” Segura said. “I kind of expected closer to (Thursday) night, or maybe a bit better than that, but it was a huge difference going five games against SoHi.”
The coach said her team played with more confidence and purpose against the Stars. That allowed the young Bulldogs to get into pressure situations with the Stars.
“It wasn’t the best performance under pressure, but I don’t think they’ll let it happen again,” Segura said. “Now that they’ve experienced it, they know how to react and what to do.”
Segura said Lillian Carstens and Emma Lakin were consistent, while Rosalie Anderson did a great job running the back row.
Carstens had seven kills, eight blocks and five aces, while Lakin had seven assists and eight digs. Anderson had eight digs. Also for Nikiski, Jaycee Tauriainen had six assists and six digs.
Morgan Bouschor had 18 kills to lead the Stars, while Taylor Edwards served up nine aces. Sierra Kuntz had 22 assists, while Aleena Zener had nine digs.
Baumer also said he is excited to have former player Drewe Zeek back to coach the C-team.
Homer 3, Seward 0
The Homer Mariners volleyball team was once again successful in a Southcentral Conference matchup against Seward High School, notching a sweep this weekend at Homer High School.
The Lady Mariners beat the Seahawks in a home game Friday evening in the Alice Witte Gymnasium, with sets of 25-6, 25-12 and 25-15. While failing to secure a set against the Mariners, the Seahawks got stronger each game, starting out ahead in the second set and tying the score early on in both the second and third sets.
Senior Katlyn Vogl led the Mariners in scoring with 10 kills and four aces. Tonda Smude had four kills, one ace and one dig; Laura Inama contributed three kills, three aces and three digs; Amber Hull had two kills and one dig, Gracie Gummer had two kills, Melanie Morris had one kill and one dig, Sela Weisser had one kill, one assist, two digs and three aces; Hannah Hatfield had nine assists, four digs and one ace; and Brooke Shafer had 13 assists and five aces.
The Mariners have only played against Seward up to this point in the season, because sport programs in central peninsula were shut down when the region went into a high-risk category for community spread of COVID-19 on Aug. 18. With volleyball at Nikiski, Kenai and Soldotna recently started up again, the Mariners will get to start playing other peninsula teams.
Despite the slow start to the season, head coach Stephanie Carroll said the players are looking good.
“We’re feeling really good about how they’re playing so far,” she said.
Coaches had to make some adjustments to compensate for the loss of several strong seniors from last season, but that only one player on the varsity team is new to the program. The team has two setters this season.
“They’re excited to get to play teams,” Carroll said. “They’re looking really good — really excited about the season and getting to compete.”
The Mariners will next play the Nikiski Bulldogs in an away game Saturday.
Megan Pacer of the Homer News contributed to this report.