The Soldotna Stars swept a nonconference matchup with the Homer Mariners Friday night at Soldotna High School, but they had to work for it.
SoHi won with scores of 25-21, 25-17 and 25-12, boosting its overall record to 9-1, while Homer dropped to 3-7 overall.
Still experimenting with the lineup after senior outside hitter Judah Aley went down with a season-ending knee injury, Stars coach Sheila Kupferschmid said her squad is using nonconference games to tune up in preparation for next week’s three-day schedule of Northern Lights Conference games against the Valley teams.
“This is midseason ball,” she said. “When key individuals continue to improve, the team improves.”
Leading the way Friday was a strong SoHi service game. Stars freshman Itua Tuisaula rocked Homer with 10 service points, including three aces, and had an additional five kills.
Junior libero Shay Zener and setter Cally Christianson both added nine service points as well, and sophomore Kodi McGillivary recorded five kills.
Kupferschmid praised McGillivary’s effort, and added that senior setter Abi Tuttle had a strong passing game.
However, one night after pulling off a 3-1 victory over Cordova in their home gym, the Mariners came out firing with a 15-8 lead in the first set. Later, a service point by lethal senior hitter Mary Hana Bowe pulled Homer to a 20-16 lead, but SoHi answered with four straight points to tie it up.
After a Homer point put them in the lead once again, the Stars finished in emphatic style, notching five consecutive points to end the game and take a 1-0 match lead. Tuisuala dominated her outside position during the run and Drewe Zeek had a stuff block as well.
“We had a hard time judging the SoHi serve,” said Homer coach Kristie Mastre. “We were only at 64 percent (against Soldotna serving), which isn’t good.”
Tuisaula came alive in the second set. The two teams played very close to a 15-all tie, then SoHi went on a 9-0 tear to reach set point on the strength of eight straight service points by Tuisaula.
“We kept pounding away at Homer, and they finally collapsed,” Kupferschmid said.
Christianson opened the third set with a controlling service game to help SoHi to a 6-1 lead, and the Stars held on from there.
SoHi will host NLC opponents Colony, Wasilla and Palmer next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Kenai, Seward take 5th at Grizzly Invitational
The Kenai Central and Seward volleyball teams tied for fifth place Friday at Saturday at the Grizzly Invitational in Anchorage, while Nikiski tied for ninth.
The teams were seeded in Saturday’s championship bracket according to their places in Friday’s pool play.
Nikiski finished 3-4 in Pool A, losing to Monroe Catholic 21-18, beating Susitna Valley 21-12, beating Grace Christian 21-18, losing to Mt. Edgecumbe 21-17, losing to Palmer 21-19, losing to Kotzebue 21-19 and defeating Valdez 21-15.
Kenai and Seward both finished 4-3 in Pool B. The Kards lost to Kodiak 23-21, defeated Houston 21-12, defeated Anchorage Christian Schools 21-5, defeated Eielson 21-10, lost to Wasilla 21-13, lost to Sitka 21-19 and defeated Seward 21-18.
The Seahawks defeated Sitka 21-15, lost to Kodiak 21-10, defeated Eielson 21-13, lost to Wasilla 21-19, defeated Houston 21-17, defeated ACS 21-14 and lost to Kenai.
Saturday, Seward and Nikiski clashed in the first round in the championship bracket. The Seahawks won 25-19, 21-23 and 4-2, but then lost 25-11 and 25-13 to Palmer.
Kenai notched a first-round victory over Susitna Valley 25-15, 21-21 and 5-3, but lost to Grace 25-23 and 22-20.
Cordova volleyball sweeps Cook Inlet Academy
The visiting Cordova volleyball team swept Cook Inlet Academy on Saturday by scores of 25-15, 25-7 and 25-14.