Mariners volleyball readies for regions competition

The Mariners’ volleyball season of regular play came to a close last weekend, but with the varsity team going into regions competition this weekend, it was as much about what’s ahead as it was the overall season. Homer honored their seniors on Thursday, but ended the night with a loss to Grace Christian School. The Mariners came back on Friday to win a three-game sweep against Houston. 

Emotions were high before the match began, according to Head Coach Beth Trowbridge. Thursday night Homer honored their six senior players: Larsen Fellows, Tisha Lovett, Kyla Pitzman, Maggie Larue, Jane Rohr and Jenna Dragoo and team manager, senior Paul Trowbridge.

“It will be tough to lose six seniors and some very big holes will need to be filled next year,” said Trowbridge.

The junior setter, McKi Needham, and major contributing sophomore players Malina Fellows, Maryhana Bowe and Izabelle Hagge all have seen varsity play this season. Combine that with a successful junior varsity and some improving freshmen and there is potential for a solid returning team, according to Trowbridge.

After the Thursday ceremony, Homer played and fell to Grace in three games: 25-22, 25-18, and 25-23.  

“We could never really find our rhythm and ended the evening with more hitting errors than kills. We started the match a little shaky with a couple of service errors right off the bat and found ourselves in a seven point deficit,” said Trowbridge. 

In the first game, Homer started the match with a seven-point deficit due to service errors. Homer then rallied back with more aggressive serving and defense and tied the score at 22. But Grace was able to get the three points needed to win the game.

Homer struggled with hitting errors in the second game. But came back strong for the third game, according to Trowbridge. 

At one point the Mariners held a seven-point lead late in the third game after a big serving run by McKi Needham, Trowbridge said. Needham ended the night with the team high of eight service aces. But Homer couldn’t hold off a rally by Grace that tied the game, again at 22. Finally, Grace won the third game by a two-point margin. 

“We gave them a lot of points with our unforced errors, hitting, blocking and serving, so we never really played up to the potential that we could have against them. Or like we had at the Grace Tournament earlier in the month when we beat them in two close games,” said Trowbridge.  

The next day the Mariners were back on track. They were able to sweep Houston 25-7, 25-12, 25-9. Homer had fewer hitting errors and continued with tough serving, according to Trowbridge.

Needham and Larsen Fellows each had five aces for the night and Rohr had three aces. Larsen Fellows led the team with 13 kills, followed by Rohr with nine, Pitzman and Malina Fellows each with five kills for the match. Needham and Lovett also contributed to the offense with a kill each. Larue led the defensive effort with 10 digs and a near perfect serve receive passing effort.

Trowbridge was excited by the growth she has seen over the season. 

“Their hard work has paid off. At all levels there is a visible increase in self-confidence and ‘court sense’ that led to longer rallies and good overall ball-handling skills,” she said.

The varsity ended their regular season with a seven-five conference record and an eight-six overall record. Season play only factors into how a team is seeded in the tournament. It comes down to how well each plays in Friday and Saturday’s region tournament at Grace Christian School in Anchorage.

Homer will spend the week refining skills and working on mental toughness, closing games and staying confident in close games, according to Trowbridge. 

“We will be preparing the girls to be ready to play their best on these two days for a shot at a region championship and a trip to the state tournament,” she said.

Grace, the region tournament home team, is locked into the first-place position with an eleven-one record and seeded first for the Region Tournament. Anchorage Christian School is seeded second; Homer is seeded third; and Cordova High School is seeded fourth.