The Mariner volleyball team competes at the Region III 3A Volleyball Tournament this weekend where they will face opponents that they have both won against and lost to during the course of the season. The tournament starts Friday at Houston High School.
Homer High School’s volleyball team began the season on rocky ground as the team adjusted to new head coach Kristie Mastre and several new underclassmen. The Mariners lost the first eight games of the season, with their first win coming Sept. 17 against Anchorage Christian, according to Alaska School Activities Association’s website asaa365.org.
Though the team has strong leadership in returning upperclassmen, there was a disconnect between the older and younger girls at the beginning of the season, said junior Raisa Basargin.
“We had some losses in the beginning of the year, but I think that was all new … coaches and stuff like that,” Basargin said. “It was hard at first because we’re all kind of new to each other. There were people coming from C-team to play. It took a long time to get to know each other but playing as a team made us work together before.”
Throughout the season at games and team-bonding activities, the upper and underclassmen players learned to trust each other, which resulted in a better record for the second half of the season, said sophomore Calla Seay.
Since mid-September, the Homer varsity volleyball team picked up a total of 7 wins for the season. Five of those wins counted in their conference, placing them at 5-7 at the end of the regular season. Anchorage Christian Schools and Redington sit below Homer in conference standing, while Houston, Seward, Nikiski and conference leader Grace Christian are above.
Homer will play their first game at the region tournament Friday at noon against Houston, a team they are 1-1 with right now. A Homer victory against Houston will then place Homer against undefeated Grace Christian at 4 p.m. Friday, which Homer lost to 3-1 and 3-0 Sept. 16 and 29.
If Homer pulls off a victory against Grace, the Mariners will compete for the championship at 4 p.m. Saturday against either Seward, ACS, Nikiski or Redington.
Half of teams that Homer could go up against for the region title are teams they have previously secured strong victories over. However, the other half are teams that stomped down Homer early in the season.
Homer lost to Seward, who is currently 4-4 in the conference, twice early in the season, but has not faced them since Sept. 15. Nikiski also beat Homer twice, 3-0 and 3-1, in games on Sept. 2 and Oct. 4. However, Homer crushed ACS 3-0 twice in games in September as well, and the Anchorage team is last in conference at 3-11. Homer also shutout Redington at their two matches this season on Oct. 15 and Oct. 29.
Mastre said she would coach again next year, and many years after, if the school wants her to return. Throughout the season, she has learned a lot about coaching and feels more prepared for next year.
“It’s not as easy nearly as I thought it would be. I don’t know why I thought it would be easy, but it’s been hard. I need to be meaner,” Mastre said with a laugh. “I can’t be their friend as much as I want to be a friend-role model for them, I can’t. I have to be a coach before anything else and teach them what they need to know because I don’t like seeing them lose. It’s not fun to lose.”
Anna Frost can be reached at email@example.com.