Soldotna defensive specialist Taylor Earl picks up the dig during a 3-1 loss to Palmer on the opening day of the Northern Lights Conference Chamoionships, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, at Wasilla High School.

Soldotna defensive specialist Taylor Earl picks up the dig during a 3-1 loss to Palmer on the opening day of the Northern Lights Conference Chamoionships, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, at Wasilla High School.

Kenai, Soldotna lose on 1st day of NLC tourney

  • By Jeremiah Bartz
  • Friday, November 4, 2016 12:26am
  • Sports

WASILLA — The top two seeds in the tournament fell, and a pair of Valley teams are headed to the state tournament.

Colony and Palmer each upset a higher seed to clinch two of the conference’s three automatic bids to the state tournament during the first day of the Northern Lights Conference Championships volleyball tournament Thursday at Wasilla High School.

After Colony knocked off the No. 1 seed and the host school, Wasilla, Palmer capped the night with a 3-1 (19-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-21) over second-seeded Soldotna.

“We knew that SoHi’s biggest weapon is their serve,” Palmer head coach Jayme DeHart said after the win over the Stars. “The whole game we just tried to manage their serve, not allowing them to score multiple points in a row.”

DeHart said that same speech was used midway through the match’s decisive Game 4. After the Moose took a 16-10 lead, Soldotna strung together seven straight points. The Stars used a shorter run to take the 20-17 lead.

“I just reminded them of that. It’s all about controlling their serves. Once we got that under control, we could stop the bleeding,” DeHart said.

Led by the attack of Palmer senior Kennedy Bryan, the Moose were able to prevent the Stars from forcing a fifth game. With the Moose trailing 20-17, Bryan blasted the first of her five kills during Palmer’s final eight points of the match.

“Kennedy likes pressure,” DeHart said. “She likes to hit. She likes a lot of pressure. That’s when she’s performing her best.”

Bryan led the Moose with 14 kills. Erika Spencer and Mallory Bradford had nine kills each.

Soldotna head coach Sheila Kupferschmid also liked the performance of some of her players across her front line.

“Personally I thought they couldn’t stop our front line,” Kupferschmid said. “We just struggled in the back row this match.”

Junior Ella Stenga led the Stars with 10 kills in the loss. Freshman Ituau Tuisaula and senior Drew Zeek collected nine kills each. Junior Shaylynn Zener recorded a team-high 11 digs for a Soldotna team that now drops into the loser’s bracket where the Stars will face Kenai Peninsula rival Kenai Central Friday at 11 a.m. at Wasilla High.

“It’s a tough loss, but we’ve got tomorrow,” Kupferschmid said. “It’s a true double-(elimination tournament), so we’re looking forward to tomorrow’s match.”

SoHi needs consecutive wins to reach the state tournament. The SoHi-Kenai winner plays the Wasilla-Kodiak winner Friday at 7 p.m. The winner of that match heads to state.

Fourth-seeded Colony cruised to a 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-21) victory over Kenai earlier in the day. Third-seeded Palmer beat Kodiak 3-0 (29-17, 25-10, 25-22).

Later in the day, Colony topped short-handed Wasilla 3-0 (25-18, 25-21, 25-18).

With their wins Thursday, Colony and Palmer will meet in the winner’s bracket semifinal round at 5 p.m. The winner of that match scores a spot in the conference title match. The loser will drop down into the lower end of the bracket to face the winner of Friday’s 7 p.m. match Saturday at 10 a.m.

Soldotna freshman Ituau Tuisaula digs the ball during a 3-1 loss to Palmer on the opening day of the Northern Lights Conference Championships Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, at Wasilla High School

Soldotna freshman Ituau Tuisaula digs the ball during a 3-1 loss to Palmer on the opening day of the Northern Lights Conference Championships Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, at Wasilla High School

More in Sports

Soldotna's Tanner Inman drives on Mila Hargrave of Juneau-Douglas on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, at the Al Howard Tournament at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai, SoHi open with losses at Al Howard tourney

Anchorage Christian Schools swept Kenai Central and Juneau-Douglas swept Soldotna on Thursday… Continue reading

tease
Hello, Neighbor

Even after living in Alaska for the better part of a decade,… Continue reading

tease
Brown Bears look to cool off Windigo

On Oct. 22, the Kenai River Brown Bears defeated the Wisconsin Windigo… Continue reading

JD McGee of Anchorage Christian Schools knocks the ball away from Soldotna's Jakob Brown on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
ACS hoops sweeps Soldotna

The visiting Anchorage Christian Schools boys basketball team pulled away in the… Continue reading

tease
Andrew captures Ski Dash

Mitchell Andrew won the Food Cache Ski Dash on Sunday on Tsalteshi… Continue reading

Eventual race winner Morgan Aldridge chases Libby Jensen, who finished third, and is chased by Amy Anderson, who took second, at the Ski for Women on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Sterling’s Aldridge wins age group at national championships

Sterling’s Morgan Aldridge won the 40 to 44 women’s age group Saturday… Continue reading

tease
Wolverines sweep Brown Bears

The Anchorage Wolverines finished a two-game North American Hockey League sweep of… Continue reading

Cook Inlet Academy's Alek McGarry battles for a rebound against Birchwood Christian on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, at Cook Inlet Academy just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
CIA girls, boys sweep Birchwood Christian

The Cook Inlet Academy girls and boys basketball teams hope to break… Continue reading

tease
Saturday hoops roundup: Bethel sweeps Nikiski to take Donlin Gold titles

The Nikiski girls and boys basketball teams finished play at the Bethel… Continue reading

Most Read