The third-seeded Grace Christian volleyball team upset top-seeded Nikiski in five games for the championship at the Southcentral Conference tournament in Homer on Saturday.
The scores were 27-25, 24-26, 18-25, 25-22 and 15-11. The Bulldogs had come into the tournament undefeated in conference play, but still clinched a fourth state berth in six years by sweeping Anchorage Christian Schools in the semifinals Friday.
Nikiski was seeking a second straight Southcentral tourney title, but the Grizzlies turned the tables after losing to the Bulldogs in five games in last year’s championship.
Grace had locked up its spot in the championship, and an automatic berth at state, with a similarly tense five-setter over Seward in the semifinals. The Seahawks will have to hope for an at-large berth to state.
“It’s a little bit of a bitter feeling right now, but that goes with any undefeated season. It’s tough to lose,” Nikiski coach Stacey Segura said. “We didn’t get outplayed or ourworked. Things just didn’t go our way.”
Southcentral MVP Melanie Sexton had 30 digs, two blocks and five aces. All-conference players Jamie Yerkes had 17 kills, Bethany Carstens had 16 kills and Elisa Fardin had 20 digs.
Also for Nikiski, Kaitlyn Johnson had 24 assists and five aces, Rylee Jackson had 10 kills and three blocks, Emma Wik had 20 assists and Kelsey Clark had 36 digs.
“I definitely think this loss, even though it is a championship loss, I think it came at the right time,” Segura said. “I think it was massively humbling and I think Monday they’ll get in the gym with rage.
“It’s not over. The girls know it and hopefully the rest of the state does too.”
Seward 3, Homer 0
The Seahawks and coach of the year Jodi Kurtz locked down third place at the tournament with a 25-20, 25-18 and 25-19 victory over Homer.
For Homer, Marina Carroll had 16 digs, four aces and four kills, Kelli Bishop had 12 digs and six kills, Brianna Hetrick had 14 assists, three kills and two aces, and Laura Inama had 23 digs.
Homer 3, ACS 0
Saturday, the Mariners advanced to the third-place match by sweeping the Lions 25-20, 25-21 and 25-21.
Karmyn Gallios had 24 digs for Homer, while Laura Inama had three aces and four kills, Kelli Bishop had six kills, and Marina Carroll had 18 digs, five kills and two aces.
Seward 3, Houston 0
The Seahawks stormed into the third-place match by sweeping Houston on Saturday. The scores were 25-16, 25-13 and 25-22.
Nikiski 3, ACS 0
The Bulldogs clinched a state tournament spot with a swift win over Anchorage Christian on Friday night, winning 25-13, 25-13 and 25-12.
Segura said she felt her squad was nervous before the match, but they played well anyway. All in all, she said it was the relatively stress-free route to state for which her squad had worked hard all year.
Johnson had 21 assists, 12 digs and five aces, while Clark had 13 digs and five aces, Sexton had nine kills and 11 digs, Yerkes had eight kills, Carstens had eight kills and Wik had 10 assists
Grace 3, Seward 2
The Grizzlies survived an epic clash with the Seahawks in Friday’s semis to secure an automatic berth to state. The scores were 25-20, 25-19, 17-25, 17-25 and 15-11.
Homer 3, Redington 0
Homer survived a “second-chance” meeting Friday night with a sweep of the Huskies, winning with scores of 25-16, 25-11 and 25-19.
Ksenia Kuzmin pumped in six digs, six aces and three kills to lead the Mariners, while Laura Inama added six aces and two kills.
Grace Christian 3, Homer 0
The Mariners opened Friday with a loss to the Grizzlies with scores of 27-25, 25-19 and 25-20.
The loss relegated Homer to a Friday night second-chance showdown with Redington, which the Mariners won 3-0.
Leading the way for Homer was Kelli Bishop with 10 kills and 18 digs. Marina Carroll added eight kills, two aces, 12 digs and two blocks. The Mariners also got 20 assists from Brianna Hetrick, who added 13 digs, four aces and four kills to her stat line, and Laura Inama had five kills and nine digs.
Seward 3, Redington 0
The Seahawks started off their tournament by rolling past Redington in the first round. The score were 25-16, 25-11 and 25-19.
Southcentral Conference awards
MVP — Melanie Sexton, Nikiski.
Coach of the Year — Jodi Kurtz, Seward.
All-conference — Jenna Kaup, ACS; Mary Kate Parks, ACS; Jessie Davis, ACS; Grace Salmia, Grace; Jordyn Liedike, Grace; Kelli Bishop, Homer; Bethany Carstens, Nikiski; Elisa Fardin, Nikiski; Jamie Yerkes, Nikiski; Taylor Ryan, Redington; Harley Lytle, Redington; Riley Von Borstel, Seward.
Good sport team — Brianna Hetrick, Homer; Anna Christiansen, Grace; Ashley Jackson, Seward; Ashlee Tiner, Nikiski; Lexi Rau, Houston; Jaelyn Singleton, ACS; Taylor Ryan, Redington.