Viks volley, break 'Pirates curse'

Siuslaw junior Zoe Alberty (4) scores a tip-kill against Marshfield during Tuesday's five-game home match with the Pirates. (photo by Zeahna Young/Siuslaw News)

Siuslaw d Marshfield:

25-10, 22-25, 25-23, 21-25, 15-10

Siuslaw d Elmira:

25-23, 25-11, 25-14

On Tuesday (March 23), the Lady Viks hosted Marshfield for a hard-fought match that went to five sets. In the end, Siuslaw managed to grab the victory, marking the first time the team has beaten the Pirates in more than four years.

Coach Ashlee Cole discussed the landmark with re-spect to her only senior on the team, Kya Blake.

“This is the first game against Marshfield that our only senior (Blake) has won since she's been in high school,” said Cole. “That's a milestone right there for all of them, really. Not being able to beat Marshfield in four years, that’s big.”

Siuslaw started out very strong, staying well in the lead and winning the first set by 15 points. Blake had four kills in the first set alone, and Zoe Alberty outmatched the Pirates on both offense and defense. However, going into the second set, the girls seemed to lose a bit of their edge, with Marshfield scoring first and only allowing Siuslaw only one lead in the set.

The Vikings struggled to return service for the majority of the set and, aside from very reliable serving from Hayden Muller and Alberty, the girls also had a hard time completing their own serves.

After taking a second time-out when the score had reached 15-21 in favor of the Pirates, the Vikings seemed to come back with a vengeance. Desiree Tupua had five kills in the set, helping Siuslaw get the score back to a tie at 22-22.

However, service returns defeated the Vikings by the end of the set, the final score being 22-25.

“Really it shouldn't have gone into five [sets],” said Cole. “I told them yesterday (March 22) in practice — because we did not have a very good practice — that if we came here and played like that in the game today, [the Pirates] were going to be right there with us. And that's kind of what happened, besides that first game where we just blew them away. If we could have kept that up, it would have been done and over with.”

Going into the third set, the Vikings still seemed to struggle to find their focus as they had in the first set. Blake and Tupua played great offense on the net, with several kills each. But the whole team still struggled to return service and Siuslaw was behind on the scoreboard for most of the set.

Finally, the Viks found their stride and made a 6-point comeback. With two kills from Blake and an ace from Muller, the score was tied at 20-20 — and the Pirates would not take back the lead for the set’s remainder. A very sneaky tip from Blake sealed the win at 25-23.

In the fourth set, Siuslaw took the lead early on, but again had trouble making and returning serves throughout, costing them many points.

The entire set was very close, with neither team holding more than a 4-point lead throughout. In the end, error receiving service proved too costly to win the set as Marshfield came out on top, 25-21.

Said Cole, “We missed 10 serves this match, and that's the most [we’ve missed this season] since our first game.”

Cole explained how, over the years, the rivalry with the Pirates had made it difficult for the Vikings to maintain their focus consistently.

“There’s this thing here, it's like a Marshfield curse,” said Cole. “They always seem to get into your head, and it happened. It took them a set to do it, but there's something they do… it hap-pened when I played [here], and it's always been there. I don't know how to explain it, but it gets into our heads and messes us up.”

Despite the curse of the Pirates, the Vikings did not give up, and fought even harder in the fifth set. Serving was back on point, with aces from Ashley Hennessee, Meika Shappell and Tupua. Blake, Tupua, Hennessee, and Muller all had kills in the set, with a final kill from Hailee Outlaw sealing the win at 15-10 for the Vikings.

Although her team had trouble defensively, Cole was very proud of its work on offense for the night.

“Desi had a great game, and Hailee really showed up today,” said Cole.

Tupua had 17 kills and two blocks, and Outlaw had eight kills and one block. Blake also had 10 kills and a block.

In the front row, Alberty had two blocks for kills and two tip-kills.

“She kind of finally realized, ‘Yeah, I'm actually a front row player, I’m not just a setter up here,’ which is good to see,” said Cole. “I know she's been dying to hit the ball, so when she gets that chance, she usually takes it. It’s a different side of her to see and it's really fun.”

Although the Pirates were able to get into the Vikings’ heads at certain points in the match, it wasn’t enough to take the win, effectively ending the Marshfield curse for this group of girls.

“It was stressful, but we did come out on top,” said Cole, “which was good to see. They definitely didn't give up, and that's kind of been their thing all season; they fight until that last point. We hadn't beaten them in four years. So now, hopefully when we play them next, it's not going to be that way.

“[Our girls are] going to realize, hey, we beat them, and we can beat them again!”

On Thursday (March 25), the Lady Viks were on the road at Elmira for their second match with the Falcons this season.

Siuslaw beat Elmira handily in three sets, with Tupua executing 10 kills and six aces, and Blake nabbing nine kills and five aces.

Siuslaw’s last two scheduled league games for this season are both at home.

The first is Tuesday (March 30) against Junction City, followed by their final game on Thursday (April 1), when they host the league’s No. 2 team, Cottage Grove.

Both matches begin at 6:45 p.m.

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