Oct. 19, 2019 — The Siuslaw Vikings are still in the playoff hunt after a pair of wins this past week against Elmira and Marist, but a loss to Marshfield (and a possible rematch on Saturday) keeps the Vikings from having a true cinch.
“I told the girls before that stretch of three games, we have to win at least two. 2-3 wins is the best-case scenario, that keeps us in the playoff hunt. With the teams we beat, it keeps us in the playoff picture,” Coach Jon Hornung said.
After handily beating Marist two Thursdays ago, the Vikings faced tough competition on Tuesday night from Marshfield, who played on Siuslaw’s home court.
In a tense game that lasted nearly two hours, the scores hovered at near ties throughout the first two sets, with Siuslaw edging out the Pirates 23-25 in the first set, and Marshfield getting the win in the second, 25-22.
“We played super well in the first set, and we played hard the second set. The ball just didn’t land our way in the second, but we battled,” Hornung said.
By the third set, the Vikings seemed to find their stride, “playing scrappy” and bagging a ton of kills for a 25-17 win.
“Then the fourth set, I don’t know if it’s they came out stronger or we came out flatter, but we hit a weird point when we just spiraled. They built confidence and we just lost ours. Once that happened, it was almost impossible to come back,” Hornung said. The Viks lost the set 25-17.
The lack of confidence seemed to stick in the fifth set as the Pirates came out strong, beating back a mid-set push by the Viks to finish out 15-11.
Thursday saw a completely different story as the Viks traveled to Elmira, playing on their senior night, “which is always really awkward,” Hornung said.
Generally, after warm up, the visiting team is forced to sit as the schools talk about their seniors for 15 minutes, but a gracious gesture by the Falcons coach to allow the Viks to warm up in the adjacent gym kept Siuslaw warmed up. Siuslaw came out battling.
“We just took it to them,” Hornung said. “We just beat them down, serving hard and swinging hard. They came out excited and punched, but we punched back,” winning the set 25-11.
The second and third sets were wins for the Viks as well (25-17, 25-19, respectively), though “I don’t think the final scores reflected how much we were in control. That was frustrating from a coaching perspective, but ultimately going on the road on a senior night and getting a win is big. That really helped cement things for us.”
As of Friday press time, the Viks are ranked 16th going into Saturday’s tournament, which we be held at Marshfield. Top 20 make it into the playoffs, but the rankings can shift rapidly.
“Right now, looking strong, as long as we take care of business tomorrow at Marshfield’s tournament, if we get a win or two, that would be great and ensure we get a playoff game,” Hornung said.
Who the Viks will play on Saturday is still up in the air, but it’s possible they could end up facing Marshfield for a rematch.
“It would be awesome if we go to their tournament and beat them,” Hornung said, pointing out that many of the team’s seniors, such as Mia Collins and Elissa Hurley, started off winning against Marshfield in their freshman year, but have lost ever since.
“We’re old rivals, the kids know each other. It’s always a tough match, but if we win, it would be really awesome for them,” he said.
Following Saturday, the Viks will play their last game of the season against Junction City on Tuesday, which will be Siuslaw’s senior night honoring Collins, Hurley and Lindsey Long.
Junction City is one of the top-ranked schools in the league, and if the Viks can ride the home crowd senior night wave and grab a win, “that would be a cherry on top,” Hornung said. “If we can win that, we could not only get a playoff game, but maybe even a home playoff game.”
Tuesday’s game begins at 6:30 p.m.