Nikiski's Rylee Ellis puts the ball between Kenai blockers Erin Koziczkowski and Jorgi Phillips during their volleyball game on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai netters overcome Nikiski

The visiting Kenai Central volleyball team swept Nikiski on Tuesday night in Southcentral Conference play.

Bruce King, Kenai’s assistant coach, said the Kardinals executed their plays well during each set in improving to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the league. Nikiski falls to 0-4 and 0-2.

“It’s a pretty well-rounded team and a pretty well-rounded showing tonight,” he said.

What worked was the offense, King said.

“We pass really well,” he said. “We have a great offense, but it’s dependent on making sure we pass it off, and we did that tonight.”

Kenai started ahead and stayed there in all three games, playing with a quick and clean offense. They beat the Bulldogs 25-17 in Game 1, 25-15 in Game 2 and 25-10 in the third set after an initial 10-point run over Nikiski.

“This team’s got plenty of hitters,” King said. “We can pass the ball (and) we can put the ball down.”

Kenai’s Erin Koziczkowski was a standout for the Kardinals, King said. She scored the final point for Kenai in Game 2 with a noncontended block, and again in Game 3 with two blocks in a row.

Koziczkowski said she’s focused on lining herself up with the hitter while she’s defending on the net.

“I’m not expecting to block it but if I do that’s a plus,” she said.

She said her team had consistent energy Tuesday night, and that she’s excited to work on other parts of the game — like quick sets — in the weeks to come.

“We’re just trying to build up more complex things,” Koziczkowski said.

Stacey Segura, Nikiski’s head coach, said the Bulldogs are trying to grow as a program as the season progresses.

“I think our chemistry was really nice tonight,” she said Tuesday. “We are a young, inexperienced team so the girls are trying really hard to make adjustments based off what we ask them to make.”

Segura said defending Kenai’s quick offense can be hard for the Bulldogs, but she’s excited to see the girls implement some of the plays they’ve been working on in practice.

“We’re definitely going to work on our blocking,” she said. “We need to have a line of defense at the beginning … of the attack.”

Segura said overall, the Bulldogs are going to work on growth.

“There’s glimpses of greatness, and so that’s really hopeful,” she said. “So I’m hoping that the next couple of weeks of lots of tournament play and a lot of games will help us get that experience that we need.”

She said Rylee Ellis, one of the outside hitters, was a standout during Tuesday’s game.

Ellis said this season she’s also looking forward to the team development.

“(I’m) definitely (looking forward to) improving as a team and taking those small leaps with each game,” she said.

Ellis said when she’s at the net she’s thinking a few steps ahead.

“I’m just reading the ball and anticipating where it’s going to go,” she said.

Kenai’s Jorgi Phillips had 22 assists Tuesday night. Valerie Villegas had 21 digs. Emma Beck and Koziczkowski had six kills each.

Nikiski’s Maylisa Hodges had 13 digs and Mckinlee Jeffries had 11 digs for the Bulldogs. Jaycee Tauriainen had five assists and Ashlynne Playle had four kills.

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