The Kenai Central volleyball program punctuated a successful Killing Cancer on the Kenai Breast Cancer Awareness Fundraiser on Monday night by defeating visiting Nikiski 25-17, 15-25, 25-19 and 25-12 in the varsity volleyball match.
While content with her squad’s teamwork on the floor, Kardinals coach Tracie Beck was more eager to talk about the teamwork that made it possible to raise about $6,300 for the breast cancer navigation program at Central Peninsula Hospital on Monday.
Beck said the evening was very personal for her program, with four players dealing with cancer in the family. She thanked volunteers from the community for coming forward to help, and gave the most kudos to Melissa Kompkoff.
Beck said Kompkoff did a ton of the organizing and also made the pink shirts, which racked up $1,800 by themselves.
The evening was packed with other fundraising events and activities, such as a balloon pop, split the pot, silent auction and serving contests between football teams, fire departments and school staffs from Nikiski and Kenai.
Heather Moon, a breast health navigator at CPH, addressed the crowd before the varsity match about the three-year-old program. Moon said the program navigates the patient through the breast cancer experience, from diagnosis to treatment to survivorship.
Because her players had to help set up for the event, and because Kenai had played Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Beck was worried about how much energy the Kardinals would have left. But with a boisterous, pink-clad student section, energy was not a problem.
“Kenai’s crowd is pretty incredible,” Nikiski coach Stacey Segura said after her squad fell to 9-5 overall. “It was so hard to hear. It felt like I was yelling 2 inches from my face the whole night.”
But with big matches coming up, Segura said this environment was the perfect test for her team.
In the first game, Caleigh Jensen served out six straight points to give Kenai an 18-9 advantage from which Nikiski could not recover.
Nikiski bounced back in the second game. Melanie Sexton served out seven straight points as the Bulldogs took a decisive 20-8 advantage.
“In the second game, we were running a consistent offense and it was more difficult for Kenai to keep up,” Segura said.
When Nikiski was not running a consistent offense, the Bulldogs had to defend attack after attack. While Segura said her defense played well, a defense can only do so much.
“A defense can only get pounded to many times before it is going to break down,” Segura said.
Beck, whose team improved to 7-5, would have liked to see more energy in Game 2, and would have liked to see the Kards be a little more strategic with their attacks, but after beating Palmer on Saturday, the coach said her team is definitely headed in the right direction.
“We’re continuing to improve,” Beck said. “These are fun games to play. It’s like basketball. When your defense is going well, it’s going to help your offense.”
In Game 3, Jensen served out four points for a 20-12 lead. Nikiski trailed 23-13, but got the final score all the way back to 25-19.
Segura said never giving up was a strength of her team at the beginning of the season. She said the Bulldogs had slumped in that regard a few weeks ago, but Monday showed that attitude is back.
“I love playing them,” Beck said. “They are hard-working kids who don’t give up.”
In Game 4, Abby Beck served out five points for a 12-3 lead, then Bethany Coghill had nine straight points for a 22-11 lead.
Coach Beck said Abby Beck, who had 14 kills, 17 digs and four aces, is much more dangerous when everybody is contributing like Monday. Coghill had 14 digs, four aces and 18 assists, while Jensen had seven aces, Emily Koziczkowski had six kills and Cierra King had four aces.
For Nikiski, Ayla Pitt had 10 kills and three blocks, while Jamie Yerkes had three aces and three blocks, Sexton had three aces, six kills and 20 digs, Emma Wik had nine assists, Kaitlyn Johnson had 10 assists, and Kelsey Clark had 26 digs.