Siuslaw d Pleasant Hill
25-23, 25-21, 25-10
Sept. 7, 2019 — Viks volleyball tripped up the Billies with a 3-0 set win on Thursday night at Pleasant Hill, “But it was tough,” Viks coach Jonathan Hornung said. “We’ve won nine games in a row, up three straight matches, but we’re still not playing our best games. We have stuff to work on. I know the girls recognize that, which is good. We’re not yet at our peak. Once we hit that, we’ll be really good.”
The first set of the night was the hardest, with players showing an overall lack of confidence on the court, according to Hornung.
“Our defense was kind of off. You could tell, we were just in a funk,” Hornung said.
The narrow 25-23 set win was the result a rough back-and-forth, with neither team breaking away until the final moments. The defense was either playing too far in or too far back, Hornung surmised, adding that his players just weren’t where they were supposed to be.
“We were playing not to screw up. When you do that... well, you screw up,” said Hornung, who felt that settling into the first week of school was also likely a factor in being out of sync.
“It’s still weird to travel for the first time during the school year,” Hornung said. “You leave early, and when we got to Eugene, it was hot. I know the girls weren’t used to traveling, they just had first-away-game jitters.”
And those jitters, said Hornung, probably were at least some of the reason the team attempted to make plays that weren’t in their wheelhouse.
“I had a conversation with one of the girls during a time out who missed her serve,” Hornung said. “She said, ‘When I went back to serve, I stayed down, and I just tried to hit in it.’ I told her, ‘You don’t practice that serve, so why are you doing that in a game?’ We get out of our routines and we do things we aren’t used to —then we screw up because that’s not how we practice.”
The second set was better, opening with an eight-point lead, then a 20-9 advantage midway through. The Billies fought back, inching up to 21 points, but the Viks were able to close out the set, 25-21, to move a step closer to the three-game sweep.
“The third set was weird,” Hornung said. “We’ve done this a couple of times when we’ve placed. We’ll win the first two and then we start the third flat.”
After a first missed serve, the Viks were down by four.
“We were like, ‘Oh gosh, not again.’”
A couple of good serves from Mia Collins seemed to jumpstart the team at that point, and the Viks pushed as hard as they could, nabbing a strong lead.
“That’s when you really have to push the pedal down and take it to them, when you’ve got the lead,” Hornung said. “You do something, you go for it. If you miss a serve and you have 10 points, that’s okay. But you just have to keep pushing them back.
“You could tell that Pleasant Hill got to a point where they were just broken down. They were making mistakes and we were crushing it; we just ran away with it.”
The Viks ended up crushing the Billies 25-10 in the final set.
The lessons of the night were to stay on defense.
“When we’re on that, Hayden Muller and Linsey Long are unstoppable,” said Hornung. “When they’re digging stuff up, we can annoy teams to the point where they’re giving us easy balls to play. We just need to focus on our hitting and making smarter shots.”
Along with the Varsity win, JV also swept the Billies, an encouraging sign considering the team didn’t win a single game the previous year.
“Usually, we’re the ones getting killed,” Hornung said, but Thursday was different. Part of this is due to how the coaches are approaching the volleyball program as a whole — instead of looking at it as one JV program and one varsity program, they just have one big program.
“To have the varsity get excited for JV, and JV get excited for varsity, that’s what the program should be. I feel like we’re finally getting there. To see the competitiveness in them, to see them get a point has been really fun to watch.”
With a strong JV team, and freshmen varsity players like Desi Tupua, who is getting back into the groove after an ankle injury two weeks ago, the future of Viking volleyball is looking bright.
“After four years of coaching, we’re finally there,” said Hornung.
The Viks will return to the floor Sept. 12, when they host Sutherlin in their final nonleague match-up.
First serve goes up on Glenn Butler Court at 6:30 p.m.