Lady Viks land Falcons for first win

Siuslaw's Desi Tupua hammers a kill between two Elmira defenders during Tuesday's home match against the Falcons. (photo by Ned Hickson/Siuslaw News)

Siuslaw d Elmira:

25-21, 25-15, 25-10

J. City d Siuslaw:

25-13, 25-21, 25-19

Last Tuesday (March 9), Siuslaw hosted Elmira for its second volleyball game of the season, issuing the Falcons a stunning defeat in three sets. Coach Ashlee Cole was thrilled with her team’s performance.

“It was great,” said Cole. “We finally played our own game, and we stopped playing down to other people. We started from the first serve, and it was really good to see.”

After succumbing to Marist 3-1 last week, Cole spent the week focusing on several aspects of the game with her squad.

“I really drilled into them in practice last week that they're going to make mistakes in practice, and that's when they [need to] try to work on if [the mistakes] get in their head or not,” she said. “We really worked on that, and that carried over in the game. I really feel like I didn't see anybody put their head down after they made an error. They just kept their focus, forgot about that mistake and kept going. That was a big thing.”

The first set started off evenly matched, with both teams staying neck and neck throughout. Alizabeth Norton had a solid block straight out of the gates, and Kya Blake had two kills and an ace. But a shirt series of errors at the net and in serving caused the Viks to fall behind, with Cole calling a time out as the score reached 13-16.

After that point, the girls came back refocused, issuing a kill and a block from Desi Tupua, as well as two aces. Zoe Alberty had a clutch tip, followed by an ace, after which point Siuslaw held the lead until the set’s end.

The Viks clinched the set win with a very sneaky tip from Norton, finishing 25-21.   

Time spent in practice on maintaining focus clearly paid off. In addition to working on staying unshakeable, Cole spent a great deal of time in practice with the girls on serving.

According to Cole, “That first set [tonight] was so close because we had six missed serves. And then that second game, we blew them away, and we didn't have any missed serves. We really drilled that into them — in practice, we were running for missed serves.”

Cole the explained that one player brought the idea up [in practice]. “She said, ‘Well, we should do this on game day.’ I was like, ‘Okay, let's do it,’” said Cole. “They put their own consequences on themselves, and that really pushed them.”

That time spent practice serving was fruitful Tuesday, with Hayden Muller starting off the next set serving nine consecutive serves. Norton and Blake were ferocious on the net, and Muller had several kills from the back row.

The Lady Viks were nearly unstoppable, with a block and two aces from Tupua, as well as a kill from Hailee Outlaw, bringing Siuslaw to a 12-point lead near the end of the second set. One more kill from Outlaw, along with two more from the outside corner from Blake, sealed the win at 25-15.

Cole explained that a lot of time in practice was spent on net presence as well, which was clear to see in sets two and three.

“Just after seeing how we did against Marist up at the net, it's 100 percent different today from the Marist game,” said Cole. “We were really aware at the net tonight, and that helped us out a lot, too, because we just drilled it back if [Elmira] overpassed it. We were ready for it. And we really worked on that in practice.”

Siuslaw smashed it even harder in the third set, with kills from Norton, Blake and Tupua straightaway. Cole noted that making the decision to move freshman Meika Shappell up to varsity full time this week was also helpful to the team — including an ace from Shappell in the third set.

“She was swinging at Marist [last week] and I only had one set with her,” said Cole. “I made the decision to bring her up full time, and it's really helped us a lot. She really is aware on the court for being a freshman, she really knows what she's doing. Seeing her grow within the next couple of years is going to be awesome.”

Outlaw had one more kill, along with three kills and a pair of aces from Tupua. The Viks also got an ace from Alberty. In the end, Blake proved unstoppable at the net, pulling in three more kills for a final score of 25-10 to complete the sweep over Elmira.

Cole was proud of Blake’s performance, saying, “She had 13 kills tonight —a great game! It’s funny because all practice she was [struggling with her timing], and then she comes out to-night and has a killer game. She just didn't let that affect her at all.”

Blake’s time spent on the net in practice translated into successfully psyching out the Falcons.

“I was telling her she needed to find their holes on the court, and there were a few to tip into. She tipped in one of them, and she got a kill,” said Cole. “That next hit, the block was nowhere there; they were so far apart, and they weren't ready for it.”

Muller, the team’s libero, had a great game as well, proving herself to be one of the key assets to the team’s success.

“Hayden had a killer game serving,” said Cole, who added that Muller’s positive attitude affects the rest of the team. “That's how she is in general. Before we even had our first game, I told her, ‘You need to keep that energy because [the team is] going to feed off of that.”

The team played more cohesively and with more energy than they did in last week’s match with Marist.

“We were just way more aware,” said Cole. “I hate to blame the Marist game on us being rusty, but that's a big part of it. Only having seven practices and then coming out here for our first game, it's hard. I'm just really happy with how we did tonight. They took everything we did in practice last week and brought it all out here.”

The Lady Vikings played again Thursday night (March 11) at Junction City, with the Tigers winning in three sets, 25-13, 25-21, 25-19.

Tupua led with 11 kills and 8 blocks, Blake had 6 kills and Outlaw had 3.

Siuslaw plays again Tuesday, on the road at Cottage Grove, beginning 6:45 p.m. No spectators are allowed into games without advanced notice.