Volleyball girls knock off North Marion

With the season winding down, the volleyball team continues to strive to make improvements in their game so they can upset some of the better teams in the league before they finish.

Last week, they knocked off North Marion again in three games, 26-24, 25-17, and 25-11.

Coach Heide Nichol saw the Huskies retrieve some of that confidence they had earlier in the year.

“They’ve taken little steps in the right direction,” said Nichol. “We worked together as a team; we flowed as a team.”

Nicki Emmert caught fire in serving with 9 aces on 26 of 27 for the night. The first two games were very similar in that Emmert led Sweet Home to big leads with her serves, but then North Marion would come back. In each of the games, another Husky would also string together a number of difficult serves, starting with Hannah Swanson in the first game, Alisha Basham in the second game, and then Ashley Horn in the runaway final game. Emmert, however, had a chance to finish out game three, thanks to two game-ending blocks by Ashlee Gorgita.

“I was really focused on every serve,” said Emmert. “I took time to think about each serve instead of just hitting it. When it goes well, then you think that nobody can pass your serves.”

Nichol also saw improvement in serve receiving and passing. Lisa Brocard was 14 of 15 on serve receiving and had 18 digs, followed by Swanson with 14 digs and Kari McGuyre with 9 digs, most of which were superbly placed right on the setter, either Emmert or Basham, both of whom had 12 assists.

“I’ve been working on having more confidence and not having negative thoughts,” said McGuyre, referring to her practice on passing. “I’ve been more positive and believe that I can do it.”

Brocard led all hitters with 23 of 25 for 8 kills while Horn was 15 of 16 with 6 kills.

Two days later against Sisters, the Huskies stormed out and took the first game of the match at 25-22. The match was highlighted by Sweet Home’s ability to keep the ball alive with good defense. Both teams struggled with their serve, the Huskies making 7 service errors and the Outlaws making 5.

Brocard, who maybe had the best match of her great career, was extremely tough on defense and also put the Huskies into a 9-5 lead with her first set of potent serves, including two aces.

“We stuck to our game plan of putting pressure on them with the serve,” said Nichol.

Even though they missed several, the others that went in were giving Sisters fits. Every time they needed a point, the Outlaws would either make a critical error or Sweet Home would make a great play. Horn finished off the game with kill on a perfect pass and set from Brocard and Emmert.

“We wanted to play really well against them,” said Emmert. “Everybody was really enjoying it.

We went out, knowing that we were going to compete hard.”

In the second game, the momentum shifted back to Sisters and the Huskies made too many mistakes as the Outlaws won 25-15. In games three and four, the Huskies continued to fight with Emmert setting Brocard often.

“Nicki was on again,” said Nichol of the team’s setter. “She seemed to have recovered her confidence in her ability to place the ball. It started with North Marion, and it continued with Sisters, where she was putting the ball where she wanted it and literally taking control of the game.”

On the receiving end of many of those sets was Brocard, who had 12 kills in the last two games, and 16 for the match. On top of that, she led in serving with 17 of 20 and 4 aces, led in

serve receive on 27 of 29, and led in digs with 20.

“She did it all,” said Nichol, who also complimented Brocard’s team play and her growth as the team leader. “Having her at the top of her game helps us tremendously. She was just hitting unabated.”

Brocard credits her growth on defense to her work in club ball in the off season.

“I don’t think I would be doing as well if I didn’t play club ball,” said Brocard. “I’ve gotten better over the years at being able to read where they are going to be hitting.”

That has been very noticeable in the past few games, but especially on this night against Sisters.

“I was so fired up for this game,” Brocard stated. “I knew where the blockers were most of the time.”

Besides Brocard, Emmert also was setting well to Horn, who was 13 of 16 with 4 kills and Elissa McCartin, who finished with 16 of 19 and 3 kills. Despite that effort on the net, Sweet Home had difficulty with Sisters’ serving game and gave the Outlaws too many soft returns which set up their offense. The Huskies lost the last two games, 25-18, 25-20.

“Our confidence goes down when a team has beaten us before,” said McGuyre. “We’re scared in a way.”

Sweet Home completed a long week with a tournament at Marist High School, where they won the consolation match over Pittman, a team from California, after going 2-4 in their tightly contested section of pool play. The Huskies played their last home game against Molalla on Tuesday and will finish their season with a match at Stayton on Thursday.