Oct.1, 2021 — Siuslaw d Elmira 20-25, 25-6, 25-18, 25-21
The Siuslaw Vikings traveled to Elmira on Sept. 28 for a Sky-Em League volleyball match against the Elmira Falcons and came home with a 3-1 victory.
The win put Siuslaw (2-1 Sky-Em) in a tie for second, with Marshfield (2-1), a half-game behind leader Cottage Grove (2-0).
The home team came out hot and went up five points early, 9-4. The Falcons never gave up that lead and took set one 25-20.
The Vikings rarely let their emotions get the best of them and did not appear to be shaken by going down early. The team looked loose between sets.
Viking Coach Kari Blake took note and credits sophomore Zoe Alberty with being one of the emotional leaders for Siuslaw.
“Zoe had to dig some passes out of the net to keep the ball in play and she just did an outstanding job of keeping her teammates positive,” said Blake. “She is always looking at what we can do to improve, and I appreciate her mindset on this team.”
Two straight kills by junior Desi Tupua put Siuslaw up 3-0 — and they never looked back after that, dominating Elmira 25-6 to take set two.
“I appreciate Desi's control in the game,” said Blake. “She's a smart player who knows when to go for a big kill versus when to tip it into a hole. She's the calm on the court for her teammates and her contribution is always substantial.”
Unquestionably the team’s leader, Tupua’s stat line reflected as much; she had 9 kills for the match, along with 12 digs, 10 perfect passes and 3 assists.
Set three also went to the Vikings. Siuslaw took an 11-point lead and the Falcons came back to get within five, but couldn’t close the gap. Siuslaw took the set 25-18.
The fourth and final set was a back and forth battle. Six times the teams were tied, the last time being at 21-21. The Viks finished strong though, scoring the last four points to take set four 25-21 and the match three games to one.
Sophomore Meika Shappell excelled from the middle back position. She had 21 perfect passes, 7 digs and 2 assists on the night. Shappell had very few errors on defense and her serving was nearly perfect, as indicated by her 10 aces, 11 serves in and only one missed serve in 22 attempts.
Other highlights from the stat sheet include a team-high 10 kills for junior Hailee Outlaw and 7 for junior Mylee Blake. Sophomore Rhianna Lane used all of her six feet to lead the team with 5 blocks, followed by Blake, Tupua and Alberty with 3 blocks each. Senior Hayden Muller also had 5 aces.
As if the Siuslaw varsity team’s play isn’t exciting enough, the future of the Viking volleyball program also looks very bright. Twenty-nine girls went out for volleyball this year, only three of which are seniors. The high number of student-athletes allowed SHS to form three teams: varsity; JV1, coached by Aylenne Vazquez; and JV2, coached by Kya Blake. The JV2 team is undefeated and JV1 has only one loss the entire season.
“The JV teams are the building blocks of our program,” said Coach Kari Blake. “I am really excited to start to grow this program. We have student-athlete numbers that we haven't seen in years. Just a couple of years ago, we weren't even able to form a JV team due to lack of players.”
The Vikings were on the court Thursday night versus Junction City after press deadlines. They play next Saturday at a tournament in Junction City. Pool play starts at 10 a.m. when the Viks play Woodburn, followed by a match at 11 a.m. versus Tillamook. Then, Siuslaw returns to Sky-Em play at home on Tuesday, Oct. 5, against the league’s first-place team Cottage Grove at 6:45 p.m.