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Soldotna volleyball sweeps Homer

The host Soldotna volleyball team overcame a slow start to sweep Homer 25-16, 25-15 and 25-23 in Northern Lights Conference action Tuesday.

SoHi, which hadn't played in 10 days, moves to 9-3 overall and 5-3 in the NLC. Homer drops to 1-5 in the conference.

"We were a little rusty in the beginning," SoHi coach Bruce King said. "I think it took the girls a little while to get into the flow of the game."

Ten players recorded kills for the Stars, who were paced by 52 assists from setter Heidi Westerman. Kaillee Skjold tallied a team-high 10 kills, while Julie Litchfield added seven and Kaycee Munn had five.

Homer kept with SoHi early in the first game until the Stars turned a 13-11 advantage into a 25-16 triumph, scoring 12 of the last 17 points.

Emily Schneider notched six straight service points to key the spurt.

"It seemed like she sparked us each time she got back to serve," King said.

It was more of the same in Game 2 as SoHi led 13-12 before pulling away thanks to a 12-3 run.

There were six ties and two lead changes during the frame, but all of them came before either team reached double digits.

King said it was the setting of Westerman that allowed SoHi to control the tempo.

"She really managed the game well for us tonight," the coach said.

The third game was the closest of the night, with the teams playing back and forth to 12 ties and four lead changes.

Homer led 17-14 against the Stars' reserves and were poised to force a fourth game, but the Mariners couldn't hold the lead.

There were ties at 19, 21, 22 and 23 before SoHi scored the final two points - including the winner on a Skjold kill.

Players like Skjold make Westerman's job easier.

"I can rely on all of them," Westerman said of the team's leading hitters. "They give us a lot of options."

Homer coach Beth Trowbridge said the Mariners hurt themselves with unforced errors - namely, wild serves and bad passes.

Some of that has to do with confidence, the coach said.

"Sometimes it's like they aren't playing to win," Trowbridge said. "I think sometimes they are afraid to make mistakes."

One bright spot for Homer was blocking. Going up against a heavy-hitting front line, the Mariners showed steady resistance.

King said Homer's defense did a good job scrambling to the ball, while Trowbridge said it was all about contesting SoHi's kills.

"They got their hands on the ball tonight," the coach said. "That's something we've been working on, and tonight we got some ricochets."

Leading the way for Homer was Lauren Cashman, who had nine assists. Zoia Basargin had four kills, while Hope Hudson notched two aces.

Also contributing for SoHi were Kylee Woodford, who had 24 digs, and Sydney Goggia, who posted three blocks.

The Stars are off until a tournament in Anchorage on Oct. 21-22.

King likes the direction his squad is headed.

"I think it's starting to come together for us," King said. "They are beginning to peak."