Kenai volleyball advances to 4th straight state final; Nikiski faces Valdez for other spot in final

The Kenai Central volleyball team defeated Nikiski 25-21, 25-20 and 25-18 on Friday at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage to advance to a fourth straight Class 3A state final.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, the Bulldogs face the survivor of the playback bracket — Valdez — for a spot in the 2 p.m. final against the Kardinals.

Because the tournament is double elimination, if Kenai loses the championship match, the Kards still have an if-necessary game to secure the title.

Kenai and Valdez have played in the last two state finals, with the Kardinals winning last season for the first state title in school history, and Valdez winning in 2021. Kenai lost the state final to Homer in 2019, while 2020 saw no state tournament due to the pandemic.

Nikiski will be looking to return to the state final for the first time since 2018, when the Bulldogs won their fifth state title. Nikiski tied for fifth at state last season.

Emma Beck had 25 kills, 15 digs and a block for Kenai, while Grace Beiser had 21 digs, five kills and two aces, Sophie Tapley had nine kills, Avia Miller had seven kills, Kate Wisnewski had 45 assists and 20 digs, and Camilla Gonzalez had 19 digs.

For the Bulldogs, Maggie Grenier had 11 assists, two kills and two aces, Evelyn Reichert had 22 digs and two aces, Avery Ellis had 15 digs and 12 assists, Alexa Iyatunguk had eight kills and four blocks, Mandee Roofe had five kills and four blocks, and Kailey Stynsberg had 21 digs.

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