Kenai Central’s Brooke Ashley and Homer’s Nevaeh Diaz tangle at the net at Kenai Central High School on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, at Kenai Central High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Brooke Ashley and Homer’s Nevaeh Diaz tangle at the net at Kenai Central High School on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, at Kenai Central High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai, Seward get 5-set wins

By JEFF HELMINIAK

Peninsula Clarion

The host Kenai Central volleyball team pulled off a massive comeback to defeat Homer in five sets in Southcentral Conference volleyball action Thursday.

The Kardinals move to 7-0 and 4-0, while Homer falls to 5-1 and 2-1.

Homer took the first two games 25-18 and 28-26. The Mariners then went up 18-9 in the third game. After that, it was mostly Kenai. The Kards came back to take the third game 26-24, then won Game 4 25-16 and Game 5 15-12.

“I think the realization finally hit that we’re like, ‘Oh my goodness, we’re gonna lose. It’s gonna be our first loss,’” said Kenai’s Andie Galloway, who had nine kills. “And I think Emma (Beck) did a really good job at bringing the girls up and actually giving us a pep talk.”

Beck, who also had nine kills, also did a good job getting the Kardinals going from the service line. Kenai was down 20-12 in Game 3 when Cali Holmes, who had six stuff blocks, had a kill to get the ball to Beck at the service line. She then served out seven straight points to cut the gap to 20-19.

The game between the two undefeated teams was then tied at 21, 22, 23 and 24 before Kenai’s Jorgi Phillips, who had 30 assists and five aces, had the play that may have swung the match. Phillips lunged for a ball and bumped it up, not only saving the point for the Kards, but also getting Kenai the point when the ball went over the net and found the floor on Homer’s side.

Beck then clinched the game with a kill.

After Kenai rode that momentum to a Game 4 win, Game 5 also was tight, with the score tied at 12. A Beck kill got it to 13-12, then Beck and Erin Koziczkowski combined on a stuff block and Koziczkowski had a solo block to finish the match.

Koziczkowski had nine kills and five stuff blocks, while Valerie Villegas had 34 digs.

“I think that this game, we started out looking at the other team and really focusing on them,” Galloway said. “And we didn’t focus on ourselves enough. So we started celebrating each other’s wins, and each other’s points. Even if we just got a touch and didn’t get the ball up.

“It was a baby steps type of thing.”

Kenai assistant coach Bruce King said the key to the turnaround was starting to match Homer’s intensity and better passing.

King has been involved in high school volleyball on the peninsula for about three decades and said he’s never seen a Class 3A team that has four players with great swings each match, as the Kardinals do.

“We just have to be able to pass,” King said.

Gracie Gummer had 20 kills and 12 assists for Homer, while Brooke Shafer had 30 assists and six aces and Izzy Dye had six kills. Homer coach Stephanie Carroll also said Zoe Adkins had an incredible night digging the ball up.

Carroll said the curtailed season in 2020 is still affecting her team.

“There’s a lot of inexperience,” Carroll said. “The girls, sometimes they’re able to bounce back. But the younger and less experienced they are, the more the momentum swings can get them.

“So we have a couple rotations that are pretty inexperienced, and it’s hard to get a good attack. And that’s where we usually struggle.”

Seward 3, Soldotna 2

The visiting Seahawks pulled off a nonconference victory Thursday. Seward is 3-1 overall, while Soldotna is 1-6.

The scores were 17-25, 25-16, 25-20, 20-25, 19-17.

Chloe Armstrong paced Soldotna with 15 kills, while Jolie Widaman added seven. Adarra Hagelund had 10 blocks for the Stars, while Nicole Dickinson had 20 assists, Aleena Zener had 14 digs and Nicole Dickinson had six aces.

Homer’s Gracie Gummer attacks the block of Kenai Central’s Erin Koziczkowski on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Gracie Gummer attacks the block of Kenai Central’s Erin Koziczkowski on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

More in Sports

tease
Strausbaugh, Hippchen take Turkey Skate

Soldotna hosted Kenai Central for the Turkey Skate at Tsalteshi Trails on… Continue reading

Kenai Central's Sawyer Vann controls Nikiski's Wyatt Maguire at 125 pounds Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. Vann notched a 7-6 victory. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Area wrestlers collect mat time before Thanksgiving break

Area wrestlers got in some mat time Tuesday before the Thanksgiving break.… Continue reading

Assistant coach Taylor Shaw leads the Kenai River Brown Bears during a game Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, against the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears start search for new head coach

The Kenai River Brown Bears issued a press release Friday about staff… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Bryce Monrean tries to find a way through the defense of the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues during a first-period power play Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Jr. Blues come back to take series from Bears

The Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues lost not only a 2020-21 season to… Continue reading

Soldotna junior Liam Babitt holds a grip on South Anchorage’s Britten Hamilton during the 215-pound final of the Lancer Smith Fall Varsity 2021 Invite on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021 at the Menard Arena in Wasilla, Alaska. (Photo by Jeremiah Bartz/Frontiersman)
Soldotna crowns 4 champions at Lancer Smith

The Soldotna wrestling team finished fourth Friday and Saturday at the Lancer… Continue reading

tease
Hockey roundup: SoHi sweeps in Kodiak; West wins End of Road tourney

The Soldotna hockey team swept Kodiak in the first high school games… Continue reading

A brown bear feeds on a salmon. (Photo by C. Canterbury/USFWS)
Refuge Notebook: Bears, uniquely built to respond to winter

With the new snow and temperatures dipping into the single digits, you… Continue reading

Kenai Central's Caden Warren surveys the ice against West at the End of the Road Tournament at Kevin Bell Arena in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Kenai, Homer hockey lose to open tourney

The Kenai Central and Homer hockey teams both opened the End of… Continue reading

Caden Triggs of the Kenai River Brown Bears celebrates his first-period goal against the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears topple Jr. Blues

By JEFF HELMINIAK Peninsula Clarion The Kenai River Brown Bears received two… Continue reading

Michael proposes to Sarah at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Out of the Office: Falling in love one snowflake at a time

Do you want to know what I’ve been looking forward to the… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Caden Triggs carries the puck against Anchorage Wolverines defenseman Campbell Cichosz on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears to host 1st place Jr. Blues

The current stretch of the schedule for the Kenai River Brown Bears… Continue reading