After dropping into the “second-chance” bracket of the Northern Lights Conference volleyball tournament, Soldotna saw its season come to an end with a tight 3-2 loss to the Colony Knights on Friday at Palmer High School.
The No. 3 seed Stars won the first set 25-20, then went back and forth with No. 4 Colony, as the Knights won the second set 25-16, SoHi won the third 25-17, and Colony tied the match up with a 26-24 win in the fourth. The winner-take-all set went to Colony 15-11.
Kenai also fell in the consolation bracket Friday, falling to Wasilla 3-0.
Soldotna beat local rival Kenai 3-1 on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinal round against second-seeded Kodiak, but lost to the Bears 3-0, placing the Stars into Friday’s consolation bracket.
Soldotna coach Sheila Kupferschmid said the biggest moment came in the waning minutes of the fourth set, when Soldotna found itself with a 23-20 lead. From there, Colony outscored the Stars 6-1 to claim the set win, then wrapped up the match with the clinching fifth set.
“It was a very disappointing loss for our team,” Kupferschmid said. “You don’t want to end that way, but it did.
“But it’s not a tell-all of how our season went.”
Hayley Ramsell led the Soldotna attack with 20 kills and three blocks, while Makenna Rosin notched 13 kills and three blocks.
Alex Ashe had 33 digs on defense, Haley Miller had six kills and four blocks and Bailey Rosin finished with three kills.
Kupferschmid, in her first year coaching Soldotna, said she really felt that the team jelled well throughout the season and that the players accepted her as head coach. After the game, Kupferschmid said she had a good talk with the team.
“One of my questions in the locker room was, ‘Was it satisfying?’” Kupferschmid said. “I can honestly say I was satisfied with this season at Soldotna.
“I enjoyed working with these athletes. I thought I had a lot of talent this year.”
Included among that talent are six departing seniors — Haley Miller, Hayley Ramsell, Skylar Shaw, Alex Ashe and Taylor Wilson.
Kupferschmid said with the loss of all but two players on her starting varsity squad, next season will be a rebuilding year.
“There’s a lot of talent with those six athletes,” she said. “It’s definitely something that we’re gonna have to work very hard on in the offseason, to continue to develop the program.”
Wasilla 3, Kenai 0
The sixth-seeded Kardinals saw their season also come to an end with a sweep at the hands of Wasilla. The Warriors won with game scores of 25-14, 25-22 and 25-12.
Elsewhere at the tournament, Palmer defeated Kodiak 3-2 for the tournament championship. The Bears also qualified for state.
The other state representative from the NLC will be Colony, which topped Wasilla 3-1 on Friday night to advance to state.
Co-Players of the Year — Mack Everett, Colony; Mariah McNamara, Palmer.
Co-Coaches of the Year — Steve Reynolds, Palmer; Amy Willis, Kodiak.
First team — Mack Everett, Colony; Mariah McNamara, Palmer; Isabelle Riina, Kodiak; Hayley Ramsell, Soldotna; Peyton Mobley, Wasilla; Kalameli Matautia, Kodiak; Amber Sizemore, Wasilla; Leiah Reichel, Palmer; Sophia Hall, Colony; Kiana Harding, Kenai.
Second team — Abby Beck, Kenai; Ashley Turcotte, Colony; Alex Ashe, Soldotna; Richelle Walker, Kodiak; Morgan Johnson, Colony; Skylar Shaw, Soldotna; Carly Venzke, Palmer.