Story last updated at 4:06 p.m. Thursday, October 24, 2002

Mariner spikers rally at tourney
by Sepp Jannotta
Staff Writer

The Homer High School volleyball team kept its run of successful tournaments going last weekend after a sweep of Valdez gave the team the silver pool title in the Service/Dimond Volleyball Invitational in Anchorage.

The Mariners finished strong Saturday despite faltering a little at the beginning of the two-day 23-team tournament. The round-robin tourney had teams competing in two tiers of two-game match play on Friday and early Saturday before settling things with best-of-three playoff rounds.

"They definitely came out sluggish," Homer coach Beth Trowbridge said of the Mariner opening game loss to Kenai 16-14. "They couldn't quite make that transition from bus to gym to volleyball. They should have never lost that game."

The Mariners came back in game two for a 15-6 win to earn a split with Kenai.

The Mariners also split with Chugiak and lost a pair of games to tournament champion Juneau in first-round action, putting them in the silver pool with a 4-4 record on Friday. Homer setter Sara Thompson said that it took the team until Saturday to get into its groove.

"We were still on the bus," she said of Friday's performances. "We wanted to show really how we could play on Saturday, because we didn't show it at all on Friday. It was communication, we just weren't talking to each other on Friday at all. But on Saturday, everybody was talking."

Following a stellar day on Saturday, the Mariners finished the tournament with a combined 13-5 record in games.

Homer beat Valdez 25-20, 25-20 in the silver pool championship after knocking off Chugiak 25-20, 27-25. The Mariners had split with both teams in earlier rounds.

But the pivotal game on Saturday was not either of the playoff matches, but a sweep of Kodiak in the second round of pool play.

After splitting with Valdez -- both Homer and the Buccaneers ended up with 7-1 records for the pool -- Trowbridge had a feeling that making the playoffs would come down to which team averaged a better margin of victory.

That's where Kodiak came in. The Mariners were 15-7 victors in the first game against the Bears.

"Because some of our pools were so tough, and because some of our competition was so close, I knew it would come down to points," Trowbridge said. "I told them you need to do more than just get out there and just win this game."

The result was a 15-0 skunking of Kodiak, and the Mariners edged Valdez for a playoff berth by points-differential tiebreaker.

Chelsea Ward, who had 86 kills, 54 digs and nine solo blocks over the tournament, was named to the all-tournament team. Holly McCune added 55 kills, 51 digs and six solo blocks, while Thompson had 110 assists.

Skyview earned a fifth-place finish by topping the Stars, 25-12 and 25-13, in the fifth-place match.

Sepp Jannotta can be reached at sjannotta@homer