A week ago, the Homer High School volleyball team was thrilled to have taken third place at the Region III/4A tournament.
Saturday, the Mariners were even more excited. After an opening-round win against West Valley and an exhausting five-game loss to Bartlett Friday, Homer found itself playing Palmer for third place in the Alaska School Activities Association State 4A Championships.
While the Mariners came up short, losing in four games, they still had plenty to be proud of.
"I thought we played pretty well -- we're fifth in state. That's pretty good," Homer's Sara Thompson said.
"If you would have asked me at the beginning of the season if Homer could be one of the top five teams in the state, no offense, but no way," said Homer's Holly McCune. "We've definitely had our dramas."
Friday's match may have been the most dramatic. Homer won the first two games of the match, 15-13, 15-9, before the Golden Bears rallied to tie the match at two games a piece with a 15-3 win in game three and a 15-9 win in game four.
Homer trailed by a bunch in game five, but came back to force extra points before the Bears could take a 17-15 win.
"We might've let down a little bit, but Bartlett came out in the third game and started hitting," Homer coach Beth Trowbridge said. "They had I don't know how many match points -- we just kept hanging in there. It was a very exciting match."
In Saturday's game against the Moose, the Mariners reverted to the strategy that had worked for them all season -- lose the first game.
Homer rallied to win the second game 15-11, with Chelsea Ward notching a kill, one of her 23 in the match, for game point.
The Mariners continued to challenge the Moose through game three and game four, but Palmer won 15-5 and 15-10 to take the match and third place in the tournament.
"I feel good -- we gave it our all," McCune said after big sigh. "The game (Friday) night was real emotional, real physical. We gave it our all.
"Today, we came out and said, 'We're going to give them a game.' We played them the best we've played them this season."
McCune said she hoped this year's success would be the start of a new tradition for Homer volleyball.
"I think we've put some enthusiasm and raw drive back into the sport," McCune said. "We may not be the most talented or the most dedicated, but when it comes down to it, we work hard. I'm proud of the whole team."
Trowbridge said the future certainly looks bright for the Mariners.
"I felt we were competitive throughout the tournament, and that was exciting," Trowbridge said. "And I've got such young players. For them, this is going to be a valuable experience. I'm glad to be here, but I'm almost more excited for what it's going to be next year."
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