Mariners battle, but suffer ‘disappointing’ loss to Bulldogs

It was a nail-biter match in the Alice Witte Gymnasium between Homer and Nikiski during the four back-to-back games on Friday. According to Head Coach Beth Trowbridge Homer’s offense was strong, but the team lost ground due to inconsistent defense. The Mariners sank to the Nikiski Bulldogs with an end score of 22-25, 25-22, 19-25, and 24-26.

“We put up a strong blocking front row forcing Nikiski to tip around our blockers which would typically lead to an easy transition, but our back row had trouble adjusting and continually got burned by the tips.” explained Trowbridge.  

“It was very disappointing to be so close to taking the match to five games and then let it slip away, but it is also a good learning opportunity.” she continued. “We need to remember how this feels and then work on maintaining our confidence and playing to win.”

Trowbridge says communication between players and average team serving quality improved substantially since their last match against Skyview.

“They are playing really well together.” she said. “They are very supportive of each other and are working hard together…We have been focusing on being consistent servers and getting more consistent with our ball handling so that we can keep more balls in play during rallies.”  

McKi Needham and Hailey Hughes both served at 100 percent, Zoia Basargin served at 92 percent with three aces and Larsen Fellows had a 91 percent serving with two aces. Basargin led the team with 11 kills and no errors, followed by Tayla Cabana with 10 kills.

Defensively Basargin led the team with three solo blocks and one block assist followed by Kyla Pitzman with two solo blocks. Basargin also led the team with 14 defensive digs.

Homer played Skyview Tuesday, but was unable to win a game against last year’s region champions, finishing the competition with a score of 14-24, 14-25, and 16-25.

“Our defense was solid and we held off the Skyview attacks pretty well, but we struggled with serve receive so had trouble mounting an offense.” said Trowbridge. She said the team felt a gap in the offense without Basargin playing.

Pitzman served four aces, Fellows tied down four solo blocks and led the team with Maggie Koplin both holding nine defensive digs apiece.

Homer JV won in two games 25-20, 25-18 and the C team lost in three games 22-25, 25-15, 10-15.

This weekend Homer will be hosting Kenai, Kodiak and Cordova during the Peninsula Challenge Tournament. The results of the round-robin competition starting at 3 p.m. on Friday will determine the structure of the double elimination tournament starting Saturday at 9 a.m.

The match against Seward has been rescheduled to Oct. 24. Homer will compete in a home game against Soldotna High School Oct. 1 starting at 6:30 p.m.

Shannon Reid is a freelance writer who lives in Homer.