The Kenai Middle School volleyball squad took winning to a whole new level this year en route to claiming a second straight Kenai Peninsula Borough championship.
The Kossacks finished a perfect 8-0 overall after capturing the borough title with a 2-0 victory over Soldotna Feb. 24 at Skyview Middle School, capping an undefeated season in which Kenai never lost a single set in match play.
Head coach Tracie Beck, in her sixth year with the program, explained that many of the players on the team, which is comprised only of eighth-graders, have older sisters that have come through the program and now play on the Kenai Central High School team, which has given the younger athletes a step up on their competition.
“They’ve actually seen and watched matches before, which is huge,” Beck said. “Usually in middle school, we’re just so busy trying to control the ball on our side (of the net). I’ve probably taught more defense this season, where we can take care of the ball on our side.
“I’ve never got to that point in middle school.”
The borough championship was the second straight for Kenai Middle, which has won four out of the last seven years.
“It was just super fun,” Beck said. “They made it look so easy. They’re just hard-working kids.”
Kenai dominated the peninsula competition during the season, going 6-0 in regular-season play, earning the Kossacks a bye on the first day of the borough tournament. All it took for Kenai in the tourney was two wins, starting with a 2-0 victory over Nikiski that set up a title clash with Soldotna.
The sterling campaign was the first time Beck has coached an undefeated team.
Beck’s core starters were libero Jenna Streiff, outside hitters Logan Satathite and Andie Galloway, middle hitters Erin Koziczkowski and Brooke Ashley, and setters Valerie Villegas and Leah English.
Other players included Amber Nash, Olivia Easling, Katie Stockton and Nevaeh Olson.
Beck said as the eighth-grade crew enters high school this fall, more success depends on how many of them sign up to play, as the fall season features more sports in which to dabble.
“I think it’s up to them, if they stick together,” Beck said.