Viks lose close one to Bulldogs


The Siuslaw Vikings volleyball team lost in a tight, five-set match in the season opener Thursday night

North Bend d Siuslaw:

25-16, 18-25, 25-29, 19-25, 13-15

Aug. 31, 2019 — The Siuslaw Vikings volleyball team lost in a tight, five-set match in the season opener Thursday night. The game, held at North Bend, was almost a win for the Viks, but an unexpected injury rattled the team, which eventually saw a 3-2 set loss against the Bulldogs.

However, the Viks dominated the first set, winning 25-16.

“The girls were just clicking,” coach Jonathan Hornung said. “We played really well. Desi Tupua, a freshman, played crazy good. It was her first high school game ever, her first match on varsity, and she played really, really well. She just got plugged in and she’s crushing balls, digging and blocking everything. It’s cool to see when you don’t know how a player is going to react to the situation.”

Another standout in the first set was Mia Collins though, according to Hornung, that was to be expected.

“Mia’s a four-year varsity player,” He said. “She’s dominant. Definitely with the absence of [Makenzie York], our four-year player from last year, Mia is expected to fill that power vacuum. She’s doing great, but it’s difficult being the secondary option to ‘It’s your team.’ We’re looking to her to take over as the leader of the program.”

The first set also saw good effort from senior Elissa Hurley, another varsity starter from last year.

“But then, in the off season in basketball, she tore her ACL. So, she’s nursing an ACL injury, which is tough. She’s only been playing since mid-August, and it’s hard to get back into playing a game again and jumping. It’s hard for her, but she’s doing well. She’s slowly getting back into it.”

While the team was strong in the first set on Thursday, the second set saw trouble.

“I don’t know if we came off flat, but we seemed somewhat complacent,” Hornung said. “We just made a ton of mental errors.”

They lost the set 18-25, with a lot of errors coming from a lack of communication.

“We need to talk more. We need to be more of a team. I think, right now with those girls, they haven’t been asked to lead. They’ve always just been asked to play. Now, they’re being asked to focus and push themselves to take over. They haven’t had to do that before.”

One of the problems is the shifting leadership structure of the team.

“We’ve been so senior-dominated for so long with such strong senior leadership, they know with a really young team we’re expecting those kids to come up,” Hornung explained. “We have to push them to not be afraid to speak up. Don’t be afraid to tell people what to do, to say what you see — because we’ll back you up.”

Hornung also saw serving as an area that needs focus. “We missed way too many serves. Just focusing on playing our game. Not making mental mistakes and not giving points away.”

By the third set, Collins and Tupua rallied the team, establishing themselves at the net and setting the tone for a 25-19 win.

One of the reasons for the win was defense, which Hornung called “stacked.”

“With Lindsey Long and Hayden Muller, they’re both small and quick and they can just see the court really well,” Hornung said. “The defense was stellar. It was hard to put balls away from us.”

Long, as well as Kya Blake and Delaney Foglio, is a returning varsity player from last year.

“All three are all playing really well and just getting used to playing varsity, getting used to having a much larger road. They’re not there to take up space, they’re expected to produce. That’s been fun to see them stepping up.”

And then there’s Zoe Alberty and Muller, the team’s setters.

“I think Hayden will have a huge year. She was awesome last year as a freshman.”

The fourth set was looking like another win with the score set at 16-14.

But then things turned south.

“Desi rolled her ankle and we had to pull her out. Her first match she ever played in high school, and she got hurt. So, we had to throw in Hailee Outlaw who is our setter in JV and comes up to varsity in case our setter gets hurt. I said, ‘Well Hailee, I guess you’re playing middle.’ She said she hadn’t played middle in two years, but I was like, ‘Well, get used to it.’

“You can tell it rattled us.”

Siuslaw lost the set, 19-25.

“In the fifth set, we mixed things around with our backrow players, said Hornung. “Lindsey Long, played front row and she did great. But, ultimately, they took it to us. We tried to claw back but we couldn’t come all the way back. We had chances, but we didn’t capitalize. It’s just the way it goes.”

The final score of the fifth set was a tight one: 13-15.

Despite the loss, Hornung said there was huge potential for the team to start racking up wins in the future.

“If we keep getting better and the girls keep pushing and they focus, the sky’s the limit,” Hornung said. “With someone like Mia, and if the other players rally around her, with her we can take out anyone. But we’ve got to keep our heads up. We can’t let mental errors beat us, which is what happened yesterday. As long as we stay focused and play our game, I think we can at least be competitive with all the games in the league.

“If they believe in themselves, we can beat teams.”

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