The Soldotna High School volleyball team staved off a pair of match points in game four Saturday, only to come up short in the deciding game five in a Region III/4A match at Soldotna.
"They did a great job," Soldotna coach Pako Whannell said of her squad after the match. "We're disappointed we lost we made unforced errors here and there that made a difference at critical times but I had all my freshmen in, and they all did well under pressure, and my older girls came out fighting. They really wanted this game bad."
Indeed, the Stars jumped on the Mariners early, taking the first game 25-18. Homer scored the first point of the match on a let-serve ace, but Soldotna built an 11-3 lead. Allyssa Roach served for three straight points to give the Stars a 4-1 edge, and Jacquelyn Cowan extended the advantage with four straight service points.
Homer narrowed the gap as Bailey Lowney served five straight points, mixing in an ace and getting a pair of kills from Chantrelle Cousins during the run, but the Stars maintained their lead and Heather Roach served the final two points of the game.
Soldotna scored first in the second game, but Homer took advantage of a Stars hit that ended up in the net and responded with a run of three service points by Brittney VanSandt as Stacey Bowden began to assert herself at the net for the Mariners.
Homer took the game 25-21 VanSandt hit another let-serve ace on game point and the Mariners jumped out to a 4-1 lead to start game three, getting three straight points on tough serving from Sarah Manalisay. The Mariners extended that lead as Chrissy Eller played a dominant game in the front row. Jess Toymil served the last six points of the game and Eller finished it with a kill.
Soldotna rallied in game four, though, taking a 13-4 lead. Homer battled back to tie the game at 18 and eventually took a 24-22 lead.
The Stars were able to tie the game at 24 when a Mariners serve went long and Heather Roach came up with a kill, and the teams battled into extra points. Soldotna again tied the game at 28 on a big back-row hit from Stacey Foster, then took a 29-28 lead on a kill block by Taryn Moeglein and Cowan. Megan Needs served the final point of the game as Homer's attack went long to give the Stars a 30-28 win and send the match to a fifth game.
Homer reasserted itself to open the fifth game, though, as Manalisay served six straight points to give the Mariners a 9-2 lead.
Soldotna's Kala Fowler won a point and the serve for her team with a kill, ending Manalisay's run, and the Stars pulled to within five points on a pair of serves, including an ace, from Cowan, but the Mariners never let the Stars get any closer. Manalisay ended up notching a kill on match point, giving the Mariners a 15-10 win.
"That was the first five-game match we've had so far. It was good to play one," said Homer coach Beth Trowbridge. "I told one of my coaches, win or lose that fifth game, it would have been a good match.
"We haven't really been in this situation too much, so it was good to see (players rise to the occasion). We did have that fourth game, where we missed two game-point serves, but we did pull it together in the fifth game. We were a little bit tentative, but not too tentative."
Homer (4-3 in Region III/4A, 6-2 overall after Saturday's win over Kenai) will head to a couple of big invitational tournaments over the next couple of weeks.
The Stars (1-5 overall) will have a week off from competition, giving them a chance to do get in some quality practice and scrimmage time.
"We can really concentrate and work on what needs to be fixed," Whannell said. "I'm looking forward to it. It's a perfect time for a break for us."
Kenai Central 3, Seward 2
The Kardinals defeated the Mariners in five games in a nonregion match Friday in Kenai.
Seward took the first game 25-19, but Kenai rallied to level the match with a 25-23 win in the second game. Seward took game three 25-15, Kenai won 25-12 in game four, and the Kardinals closed out the match with a 15-5 win in the fifth game.
Homer 3, Kenai Central 1
The Mariners snatched a Region III/4A match from the Kardinals Saturday in Homer.
In the first game, Homer led 22-21 when the Mariners scored off Kenai's serve to make it 23-21. Sarah Manalisay then served out the final two points of the game for the Mariners. Homer's Chantrelle Cousins also served for four straight points in the first game.
In the second game, Ali DeMello and Emily Kocinski took control for the Kardinals. Kocinski served for seven straight points early in the game to put the Kardinals in control, and DeMello finished out the game by serving for 10 straight points.
In the third game, Manalisay came back and controlled the game with her serve. She served for 11 points in the game.
In the final game, both teams battled back and forth, but the Mariners edged the Kardinals for the victory.
Seward 3, Anchorage Christian Schools 0
The Seahawks rebounded from a five-game loss Friday at Kenai with a sweep of the visiting Lions Saturday in District 3/3A action.
The scores in the match were 25-13, 25-9 and 25-6.
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