Husky netters win two

Sweet Home opened with a couple of modest opponents last week and ended up victorious as expected.

Having previously beaten Philomath in tournament play, the Huskies easily handled the Warriors at home, 25-14, 25-15, and 25-12 to open the season in match play. Primarily, it was a match in which Sweet Home dominated with the serve and Philomath never mounted an attack. Ashley Horn, as she had done in the tournament, had key extended strings of service in every game.

“I just block everything out,” said Horn, who uses a side spin for her most effective serve. “Coach tells me where to serve it and I just try to serve it there. I’ve gotten better at putting it where they aren’t.”

“We served really well to the positions I asked them to,” said Coach Heide Nichol. “We weren’t getting that much back (from Philomath) to get the offense going.”

When the Warriors did manage to return service, the Huskies showed a more solidified offense, starting with good serve receiving and passing and ending up with a number of big kills by Lisa Brocard off Nikki Emmert’s sets.

“We beat them (Philomath) before but it wasn’t by much,” said Brocard, who thought the Huskies played with much more confidence. “We knew they were going to be some competition for us, but we also knew that we had it in us to play up to the level we could play.”

On the road at Toledo, it appeared that the Huskies clearly had the superior team. After a slow start in the first game, Brocard started off a service run of seven points with an ace and ended it with another ace to give the Huskies a 15-7 lead. In the middle of that run, Sweet Home had four kills: a dump kill by Emmert, two by Dani Thiereault, and one by Elissa McCartin. Horn served out the first game, which ended with a soft, deep kill by Chelsea Gagner for a 25-11 win.

“We came out like a very class act,” said Nichol. “A team that had the rhythm, that knew where they were going with the ball.”

Then the momentum shifted. Toledo simply began to get the ball over the net in an unspectacular fashion and the Huskies made a number of unforced errors. The result was an unexpected 25-19 loss.

“You could see the difference out there,” said Nichol. “It wasn’t necessarily overconfidence. It was a drop in intensity level. We were fighting to get a rhythm going.”

Brocard felt the intensity level dwindle also.

“If you know they are definitely beatable, then we tend not to push ourselves as much,” she said. “We are just doing enough to beat them.”

And that is what the Huskies did. After trailing 5-0 in the third game, the Huskies served up a number of aces, two each from Alisha Basham, Horn, and Emmert to finally regain the lead.

Toledo finally began to stumble along the way with their own miscues and missed serves. Basham added two more aces and Brocard finished the last two points with a tip and a kill to gain the victory 25-18.

Neither team played inspired ball in the fourth game. Sweet Home, with two aces by Kari McGuyre late in the game and two kills by Gagner, put Toledo to rest with the final 25-21 win.

“It’s always hard to get back up after you get down,” said Horn. “We need to not let things bother us.”

Nichol gave credit to a tenacious if not refined Toledo team, hoping that her own team will gain by “struggling through the doldrums.”

“I’m pleased with the win, but not with the overall execution,” stated Nichol. “If we have players struggling, everybody else has to pick up and make up for a few errors here and there.”

The Huskies hoped for a better game when they traveled Highway 34 again, this time to Newport on Tuesday. They return home for a match against Banks on Thursday.