APTOS — Some thought that the youth on the Mariners’ team was going to be their weakness this season.
On Thursday night that youth created an impenetrable wall, and silenced all the lingering questions.
Sophomore middles Maddy Bol and Karsen Welle teamed up for 22 solo blocks to stonewall the visiting Hollister Haybalers attack on route to a 26-28, 25-7, 25-22, 25-19, season-opening win.
“I felt like we played really well,” said freshman setter Elise Coash. “We played really consistent. We were on fire and we just played with a lot of intensity today.”
That intensity was lacking early on in the first set and the Mariners paid for it. Hollister was able to overtake the Mariners early lead and build one of their own off of some costly Aptos errors.
But the Mariners didn’t give up after going down 21-18. Instead they fought back on several big blocks and kills from Bol and junior Claire Coash to tie the game at 24.
Hollister went on to ultimately win the first set battle but it was Aptos who had just begun their efforts of winning the war.
“We we’re in a fog a little bit,” said Mariners head coach David Faz. “We finished the game in a flurry. I just said, ‘listen, we gave up tons of points early, if we turn it on like we did at the end of the set, it’s not even close.’”
Faz’s girls listen closely.
They came out in the second set and dominated the Haybalers by going on a 14-1 run to take a commanding 18-5 lead.
They eventually won the third set 25-7.
“I really felt like we were in control after that first set,” Faz said.
The Mariners front line of Bol and Welle continued to turn away the Haybalers time-and-time-again and lengthy senior outside Jenna Belton smashed down 11 kills.
Claire also put loads of pressure on the Hollister back line by throwing down 15 kills of her own.
The third and fourth set were never in question for the sizzling Mariners and they got the W.
“They (Aptos) play with a lot of emotion and that’s good,” said Hollister head coach Dean Askanas. “I think they’re going to have a good season. They’ll have their ups-and-downs like every team, but they played well. They came together well after losing that tough first game.”
But this one win is just the beginning for the hopeful Mariners.
After graduating just one player from last season’s roster, they have their eyes set on taking the Santa Cruz Coastal Athletic League and making it back to the Central Coast Section Playoffs.
Last season the Mariners climbed their way to the semifinals where they lost to Sacred Heart Cathedral in straight sets.
“I think that we’re just ready to go,” said Bol. “We’re ready to win league. We’ve been working really hard in practice and we’re just ready to show what Aptos volleyball looks like.”
The Mariners will play in today’s Rosemary Kingston tournament at 8 a.m. at Notre Dame of Salinas.
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