Kenai Central and Nikiski will represent the Kenai Peninsula at the Class 3A state volleyball tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.
The Bulldogs are making their first state trip since 2019, while Kenai is making a third straight trip. In 2019, Kenai made its first state appearance in 14 years after moving from Class 4A to Class 3A in 2018.
Kenai and coach Tracie Beck, who won a Class 1-2-3A West state volleyball title as an assistant with Seldovia in 2002, have been tantalizingly close to a state title.
In 2019, the Kardinals lost in the championship match to Homer. In 2020, Kenai didn’t lose a game all season while being limited to peninsula competition due to the pandemic. The state tourney that season was canceled.
Last season, Kenai went 18-0 in full length matches headed into the state tournament, but lost to Valdez in the state final.
This season, the Kardinals enter state 19-0 in full length matches.
According to maxpreps.com, in tournament and nontournament play, Kenai has lost just one game to a Class 3A team. The Kardinals are 2-1 against Valdez this season.
“We just got regions and that’s definitely a very cool thing to win,” Kenai’s Emma Beck said after the Kardinals topped Nikiski 3-0 to win the Southcentral Conference crown Saturday. “But our number one goal is to win state, so hopefully we can get it done this year.”
Kenai opens with a 3:15 p.m. game today against Nome-Beltz. Nikiski plays Sitka at 10 a.m.
The Bulldogs used a season of improvement to make state. Nikiski was just the third seed from the Southern Division at the Southcentral Conference tournament, but the Bulldogs made it all the way to the tourney final.
Nikiski coach Stacey Segura, who won a state title with the Bulldogs in 2018, said the defense and serve-receive have come a long way. Nikiski now must improve its attack.
“I’m excited for state,” Segura said after the Southcentral title game loss. “Our goal is not to have ridiculous expectations, but to maintain the peak that we’re on right now. We’re on a major peak.”
Class 3A state volleyball tournament
at Alaska Airlines Center, Anchorage
Game 1 — Sitka vs. Nikiski, 10 a.m.
Game 2 — Barrow vs. Monroe Catholic, 11:45 a.m.
Game 3 — Valdez vs. Houston, 1:30 p.m.
Game 4 — Kenai vs. Nome-Beltz, 3:15 p.m.
Game 5 — Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 5:15 p.m.
Game 6 — Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 7 p.m.
Game 7 — Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 10 a.m.
Game 8 — Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 11:45 a.m.
Game 9 — Game 7 winner vs. Game 6 loser, 1:30 p.m.
Game 10 — Game 8 winner vs. Game 5 loser, 3:15 p.m.
Game 11 — Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 5:15 p.m.
Game 12 — Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 7 p.m.
Game 13 — Game 12 winner vs. Game 11 loser, 10 a.m.
Championship — Game 11 winner vs. Game 13 winner, 2 p.m. (if Game 13 winner wins, if necessary game immediately follows)