Normally, a sweep over a rival to remain undefeated in nontournament play would be cause for celebration, but that’s not what had Kenai Central volleyball head coach Tracie Beck smiling Tuesday night.
The Tuesday match at Kenai against Soldotna was Kenai volleyball’s annual Killing Cancer on the Kenai, which raises money for area families affected by cancer.
The proceeds of Tuesday’s match went to the Earll and Dahlman families, who are battling leukemia and colon cancer, respectively.
A silent auction of baskets put together by the players, dinner, split the pot, T-shirts and other donations were all used to raise over $15,000 for the families, according to Beck.
“It’s so fun to win, but it’s so much more important that they see outside of themselves,” Beck said of her players. “It’s so important that these people, in the worst time of their life, don’t feel alone.”
The Kardinals are also hosting the Southcentral Conference volleyball tournament this year, so Killing Cancer on the Kenai was put on the calendar earlier than normal.
Beck said she usually plays a big role in the fundraiser, but this year it came so fast she didn’t play her normal role.
“What’s really special is our booster club really took it on,” she said. “I’m always in the mix of it, but they said, ‘Coach, I got it,’ and they did an awesome job.”
Beck also said it was nice to have Soldotna involved, because that packed the gym near capacity and made more fundraising possible.
The Kardinals won the nonconference match 25-19, 25-19 and 25-22 to move to 8-0 in nontournament play this season. Kenai still has not lost a set in nontournament play. Soldotna falls to 5-7.
Both teams struggled with their serving in the match, but the Kardinals were able to come out on top due to the all-around play of Emma Beck, who had 16 kills and 12 digs, and the savvy setting of Jorgi Phillips, who had 24 assists.
“She just does her job,” Beck said of Phillips. “And it’s not a glorious job, but she doesn’t get twisted about that. She puts balls in and knows who to turn to at what point in the game, making sure she’s aware of the score.
“She’s just a stud.”
Beck said Phillips and Emma Beck had some miscommunications due to the noise in the gym, but were still able to make enough winning plays.
Kimberly Chanley had 24 digs for the Kards, while Cali Holmes had five kills and Jaycie Castillo had three aces.
“Overall, I’m happy with how we were able to compete with SoHi,” coach Beck said. “They’re a great team.”
Soldotna coach Luke Baumer said his team did not serve well in the first set. The coach said he told his squad to take a little off the serve after the first set. After that, Baumer said his team played well.
“I don’t think our girls played bad at all, considering the atmosphere,” Baumer said. “That’s was definitely by far the biggest crowd we’ve come across this season, and probably in the last three years.”
The coach said having one full-time, returning varsity starter in Katelyn Morrison meant most of his players were exposed to the atmosphere for the first time.
Baumer was happy the Stars were able to play a close match with a team like Kenai led by a player like Phillips.
“That kid can pretty much put the ball right where you want it to be, and have it there every single time,” the coach said. “She does a really good job running that offense and kept our front row guessing.”
Baumer said his own setter, Nicole Dickinson, also had a great match with 21 assists. The coach added that Kiara Forkner, with 12 digs, did a great job contending with Kenai’s attack, while Morrison, with 16 kills, got a lot of solid swings on the ball.
Also for the Stars, Sadie Lane had seven kills and Clare Henry had three aces.
“We want to look at winning in a different way,” Baumer said. “When two teams go in, one team will come out a winner statistically and the other will come out a loser statistically, but that doesn’t mean we need to view that as a loss.
“I view tonight as a win.”
Homer 3, Nikiski 1
The visiting Homer volleyball team defeated Nikiski 28-26, 25-19, 13-25 and 25-23 on Tuesday night in Southcentral Conference play.
The Mariners improved to 3-1 in the league and 3-3 overall, while the Bulldogs fell to 0-3 and 1-4.
Izzy Dye paced the Mariners with 16 kills, while Gracie Miotke had seven kills, Nevaeh Diaz had six kills, Brooke Shafer had 32 assists and Rececca Trowbridge had four aces.
For Nikiski, Ashlynne Playle had 12 kills, three blocks and five aces, Avery White had 15 digs and five aces, Kailey Stynsberg had 21 digs, and Savanna Stock had 15 digs, 13 assists, four kills, three blocks and six aces.