Today at 1:30 p.m, Homer High’s volleyball team takes on Valdez in the state championships.
The Mariners earned their trip to the champonships by defeating Seward 25-16, 25-20, 20-25 and 25-12 in the third-place match of the Southcentral Conference tournament Saturday at Nikiski High School.
Despite losing six seniors and changing head coaches after last season, the Mariners were able to build on last season’s state berth, which was the first for the program since 2003.
“It feels good,” said Homer coach Pam Rugloski. “We came in with huge expectations.”
The Mariner squad played to a 14-25, 25-20, 25-15 and 25-15 victory over the Bulldogs.
In that match, Paige Snyder had eight kills and six aces, Mary Hana Bowe had nine kills and two aces, and Malina Fellows had six kills and an ace.
Homer came to the third-place match with the advantage of having Bowe back in the lineup. An ankle injury had kept her out for all but the final two weeks of the regular season. She had 17 attacks against Seward, and turned that into 12 kills.
“She’s a big gun,” Rugloski said. “She’s loud and very vocal. She knows what’s going on and stays very positive.”
When Seward took Game 3, it was Bowe who got the Mariners going again with a couple early kills in Game 4.
McKi Needham then served out six straight points to give Homer a 22-11 advantage and put them on state’s doorstep.
Rugloski said Needham’s serving and running of the offense was pivotal. She had 20 serves in the match, with eight aces and only one error.
Fellows also served tough against Seward, with four aces on 18 serves, and only one error. Snyder added seven kills in the match.
Finally, Rugloski said Raisa Basargin did a good job filling in at middle hitter for Kelly Liebers, who had some muscle tightness in her back.