Kenai Central handled its business Thursday night on the volleyball court, picking up a 3-1 Southcentral Conference victory over Seward with game scores of 25-19, 18-25, 25-13 and 25-12.
For Kenai, which moves to 2-2 in conference play, it was a big boost to a team continuing to rise and with hopes of contending at the region tournament.
“We just killed practice yesterday,” said Kenai head coach Tracie Beck. “We had an amazing practice. So then you’re thinking, ‘Oh yeah, we’re ready to go.’”
For Seward, which dropped to 0-2 in conference this year, it was another needed dose of competition after many early season games were wiped off the schedule.
The biggest setback the Seahawks have faced this year is lack of games due to the Swan Lake Fire in August. Seward head coach Jodi Kurtz said the team has just three nontournament matches under its belt, which has hurt development and experience levels on the team.
“It’s hard,” Kurtz said. “It’s hard for them as a team, because we’ve just been practicing and practicing, and we don’t have enough on our team to properly scrimmage, unless we bring up girls from JV.
“It’s taken a long time to get into game mode.”
Beck said Kenai’s promising week of practice didn’t necessarily translate to success early in Thursday’s match, as the Kards dropped the second set, leading to a tied match.
“We came out flat-footed,” Beck said. “We’ve just got to come in and compete every game. Who cares what happened in practice last week, we’ve got to compete in every game.”
Once the team found a groove and rhythm, however, Beck said the Kards came alive. Bethany Morris led Kenai with 18 kills, five digs and five serve points on the night, while teammate Abby Every joined her at the net with six kills, three digs and five serve points.
Also for Kenai, Jaiden Streiff tallied five serve points and four digs, Jenna Streiff tacked on 11 digs and Kaylee Lauritsen had five digs.
Kenai got the night off to a quick start with a 9-1 lead in the first set, although Seward fought back to make it a game, closing the gap to 13-12 with a six-point run. Seward’s surge was helped by a couple of aces from Selma Casagranda.
Kenai eventually pulled away with a 5-1 run thanks to several big serves from Jaiden Streiff, pushing the lead to 22-16, which was enough to hold on.
Game 2 didn’t go as well for Kenai. The two teams were tied at 10-all when Seward took off on a 6-0 run, helped mostly by mistakes by Kenai. The Kards put three straight balls out of bounds to give Seward points, forcing Beck to call timeout.
“We wanted to get everyone in, and I liked the rotation,” Beck said. “We just didn’t play super well leading into that game.”
Kenai came back to get within one at 19-18, but the Seahawks closed it out with emphatic fashion, scoring six straight points to tie up the match. Sequoia Sieverts tallied the winning point on a stuff block.
The key to Game 3 was a three-point swing for Kenai, thanks to Morris, who served up three service points in a row. The run pushed Kenai ahead 13-6 midway through the set, which was enough to hang on and take a 2-1 match lead.