Three decades after winning their first state volleyball championship, the Homer Mariners captured their second.
Homer came through the losers bracket Saturday to claim the Class 3A state title at the Alaska Airlines Center.
Once they reached the finals, the Mariners defeated Kenai Central in five sets to force the if-necessary game, and won it too.
Homer coach Stephanie Carroll said her team didn’t know until recently that so many years had passed since the school won its first state volleyball championship in 1990.
“When we realized that … it had been that long, we realized this is the year — we’re putting another banner up. Thirty years is too long,” Carroll said. “That was our goal, to come and get one.”
The Mariners ended the long drought by beating a Kenai Central team that was looking for its first championship.
Marina Carroll ripped 30 kills and Laura Inama slammed 20 against the Kardinals. Kelli Bishop handed out 40 assists to help Homer get past Kenai Central 11-25, 25-14, 25-16, 12-25, 15-8 in the championship match and 30-23 in the if-necessary game.
“We actually did expect it to go to an if-game today,” Stephanie Carroll said. “We knew it would be a battle against Kenai and Nikiski. We just fought, and I’m so proud they never gave up and just stayed in it the whole time.”
Homer swept Nikiski earlier Saturday, 25-20, 25-16, 25-23, to advance to the final match against the Kards.
Bishop and Marina Carroll are among four seniors on the Homer squad, along with Karmyn Gallios and Kitri Classen.
“I started off as an assistant coach with these seniors,” Stephanie Carroll said. “They had a different head coach every year and this year it was me.”
The seniors have played at the varsity level since they were sophomores, Stephanie Carroll said, “so they’ve been through rough patches where they were the underdog.”
The eight-team, double-elimination tournament was a showcase for the Southcentral Conference. All three teams that were still standing after two days of competition — Homer, Kenai and defending champion Nikiski — come from that conference.
Eight of the 12 all-tournament picks also came from the Southcentral Conference — Carroll, Inama and Bishop from Homer; Abby Every and Bethany Morris from Kenai; and America Jeffreys, Kaitlyn Johnson and Kaycee Bostic from Nikiski.
ASAA/First National Bank state volleyball tournament
Homer def. Nikiski 3-1 (25-18, 25-22, 23-25, 25-14)
Championship — Homer def. Kenai 3-2 (11-25, 25-14, 25-16, 12-25, 15-9
If-necessary game — Homer 30, Kenai 23
Kenai def. Nikiski 3-1 (25-9, 25-18, 23-25, 25-19)
Barrow def. Valdez 3-0 (26-24, 25-18, 27-25) (loser out)
Monroe def. Kotzebue 3-0 (25-22, 25-14, 27-25) (loser out)
Homer def. Barrow 3-0 (25-6, 26-24, 25-6 (loser out)
Sitka def. Monroe 3-0 (25-22, 26-24, 25-20) (loser out)
Homer def. Sitka 3-0 (25-20, 25-16, 25-23) (loser out)
America Jeffreys, Nikiski
Abby Every, Kenai
Bethany Morris, Kenai
Chloe Maynard, Monroe
Chloe Morrison, Sitka
Marina Carroll, Homer
Jenicee Donovan, Barrow
Kaitlyn Johnson, Nikiski
Kelli Bishop, Homer
Kaycee Bostic, Nikiski
Laveah Makisi, Kotzebue
Laura Inama, Homer