The young women of Homer’s high school volleyball team did something on their court Saturday night that hasn’t been done since 2014: they beat Nikiski Middle-High School.
The win brought Homer to 6-2 in division standings, and 17-14 overall this season.
Coach Sara Pennington said she saw her players working very well together as a team on Saturday. No one was being selfish, she said.
“I just had to keep convincing them that they were capable of coming out of a hole, every single time,” she said. “We were down almost five points, I think, and we came back. Sometimes it’s hard for them to believe in themselves when you’re down. You know, your attitudes change and you don’t think you can do it, you think you’re going to lose. I just had to keep telling them, ‘you are capable of doing this,’ and they did it. I’m so proud of them.”
Notorious for having an advanced program, Nikiski fell to 14-2 in division play and 35-10 overall this season after the loss. Nikiski coach Stacey Segura noted that the team is still missing Bethany Carstens, a starting center hitter.
“Not the outcome we wanted, but the season’s not over and we’ve got a lot that we’ve got to work on,” Segura said. “We had a big game last night against Wasilla, and we went to five. I don’t know if that was just the high of the weekend and we just showed up and played a little flat today.”
Segura credited her team’s attitude throughout the game, however.
“Their attitude never got down,” she said. “My girls have a great attitude and so they stayed really positive.”
The Mariners started off strong out of the gate, defeating their Southcentral Conference rival 25-17. The Bulldogs answered swiftly, however, winning the second game 25-22. Homer clinched the victory by winning the third and fourth games 26-24 and 25-23, respectively.
Clear winners could not be forecasted in the second and third games, in which both teams continually tied up the score and only inched a few points ahead of each other.
The win was especially sweet for seniors Brianna Hetrick and Kelsea Scott, as this was the last home game of the season and, therefore, the last home games of their high school careers.
“It feels really good,” Scott said of the win. “We’ve been working toward trying to beat them for the last few years.”
Both Scott and Hetrick said the team has come a long way in the four years they’ve been involved with it.
“There’s been a lot of growth, I think,” Scott said. “I’ve played with most of the girls on the team for at least three, four years, and so it’s awesome to see all of the growth and everybody getting better, hitting harder. It’s really good.”
“With Coach Sara as our coach, she has pushed us to the top,” Hetrick said. “She is an amazing coach, and we have improved so much. There is no way last year we could have beaten Nikiski.”
For Hetrick, the win was not easily gained.
“We definitely had competition against Nikiski, because they’ve always beaten us,” she said. “So it was like, it was just — it was amazing to finally beat them on senior night.”
The Lady Mariners will next hit the court at 5 p.m. today, Thursday, for a game in Seward.