It may have been Skyview's house, but the Soldotna Stars brought the roof.
Soldotna's Rachel Besse recorded 12 blocks Thursday as the Stars recorded a three-game win over the defending state champion Wasilla Warriors in the opening round of the Region III/4A Volleyball Tournament.
"We had really good practice this week," said Soldotna coach Pako Whannell. "We really worked hard, and we went over a lot of mental stuff. We talked about enthusiasm, and how we need to be contagious with that. We talked about defense, and we talked about the concept of team.
"It really helped."
The mental aspect of the game proved to be critical for the Stars as they faced 13-7 deficit in the first game. The Stars scratched back to win the game, though, 15-13, and rode that momentum to a 15-5 win in game two and a 15-8 win in game three.
"That did it," Whannell said of coming back to win the first game. "Usually when we're behind, the girls tear themselves apart over one mistake. We can't do that. We have to make the adjustment and move on. The girls were really good about that. We said, 'One point at a time, one dig at a time, and we can do it.'"
Soldotna did just that against the Warriors. Down 13-7, Besse won a sideout for the Stars with a tip for a kill, then notched a block for the first of three points served by Hillary Zobeck.
Heather Roach added a point from the service line, cutting the Warriors' edge to two, and Ashley Duwe served out the game with four straight points, the first two on kills by Zobeck and the last two on serves Wasilla could not return.
"That was very important," Zobeck said of coming back to win the first game. "Momentum is really important. We had lost it, but we gained it back for the rest of the match."
The Stars led all the way in game two, and after trailing 3-1 in game three, Stacey Foster served four straight points, two of them aces, and gave the Stars the lead for good.
Besse was a presence at the net throughout the match with her blocking and hitting. Besse said it was a much different match than the last one Soldotna played against Wasilla.
"Last time, they tried a lot of back-row attacks. They didn't do that this time," Besse said. "I don't know if it was something they were doing different, or I was just on."
Besse said the art of blocking was mostly timing, though she said her long reach does give her an advantage.
"With the length of my arms, I have an advantage because I'm so far over the net," Besse said. "It's timing, and reading where they're going to hit the ball."
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