The Soldotna High School volleyball team clawed its way back from a two-games-to-none deficit Thursday evening to force a fifth game in a nonregion match against Grace Christian, but the big serves that helped the Stars get back into the match were a little too big in game five as the Grizzlies came away with the win.
Soldotna jumped out to an early lead in the first game before Grace rallied for a 15-7 win. The Stars came from behind to tie game two at 14 before the Grizzlies won in extra points, 17-15.
The Stars comeback began to take shape in game three when Soldotna served its way to a 15-7 win. Soldotna followed that with a 15-5 win in game four, but lost its steam in the decisive game five, dropping the clincher 15-5.
"It was frustrating," Soldotna coach Pako Whannell said. "We talked to the girls afterward, and some of them said they let up. Obviously, you can't do that in a fifth game when you want to win the match."
Christa Martin got the Stars off to a solid start in game four with three points from the service line -- Hillary Zobeck notched a block on the first point of the game -- and Ashley Duwe followed with six straight points from the service line, three of them unreturnable by the Grizzlies.
Zobeck added four points on her serve as the Stars scrambled for every ball to win rallies, and Jenna Pitts served up game point to tie the match at two games apiece.
Soldotna's momentum came to a screeching halt in game five, though, as the Grizzlies served up a 9-0 lead, capitalizing on some miscommunication and some serves that went long by the Stars.
"They missed four or five serves, and that took a lot of pressure off our serve-receive," said Grizzlies coach Janet Kinney.
Whannell was pleased with the Stars' effort to get back into the match after falling behind early.
"Ashley Duwe has a very aggressive serve. It got us on the board," Whannell said. "Stacey Foster, I thought, did a great job setting to all of our hitters."
Whannell also liked the way Haley Smith was able to step in for Rachel Besse in the front row.
"She doesn't get a lot of playing time, but she really stepped it up," Whannell said. "Christa Martin was our defensive specialist in the back row. She did a phenomenal job. She was very vocal, and she's usually the quietest girl on the team."
Soldotna is off this weekend and will travel to Homer Tuesday for a Region III/4A match.
Grace, meanwhile, will travel to Homer today and Saturday to participate in the Peninsula Challenge.
HOMER 3, HOUSTON 0
The Mariners defeated the Hawks in a nonregion match Thursday in Homer.
The Mariners won game one 15-6, took game two 15-13 and sewed up the match with a 15-10 win in game three.
Lindsay Horst served out game three for the Mariners, earning six straight points to end the match.
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