Kenai volleyball moves to state semifinals

Staff report

The Kenai Central volleyball team moved to the semifinals after two victories on the opening day of the Class 3A state volleyball tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.

After toppling Monroe 3-0 in the first round, Kenai defeated Sitka 3-2 to move to a 5:15 p.m. semifinal today against Valdez. The winner moves to the title game at 2 p.m. Saturday, while the loser must defeat the survivor of the playback bracket at 10 a.m. Saturday to advance to the championship.

The Buccaneers proved to be a Southcentral Conference wrecking ball Thursday, topping Homer 3-0 in the first round before defeating Seward 3-1 in the second round. The Seahawks had defeated Bethel 3-0 in the first round.

Kenai coach Tracie Beck expects a tough test from Valdez.

“Absolutely, and that’s why you love coming here,” she said. “It’s such a different intensity level from the teams you get to see, and it’s such a grind.

“It’s an amazing place to play and such an amazing experience for the girls with kids coming in from all over the state.”

The tournament is double elimination, so the Mariners and Seahawks will try to make their way through the playback bracket.

Homer plays at 10 a.m. today against Bethel, with the winner moving on to play Sitka at 1:30 p.m. Seward awaits the winner of Nome and Monroe in a 3:15 p.m. match. The quarterfinal in the playback bracket will be at 7 p.m.

Kenai 3, Sitka 2

The Kardinals notched a 25-27, 25-12, 25-12, 17-25 and 15-12 victory over the Wolves to move to 20-0 in full-length matches.

Jorgi Phillips received player of the match with 42 assists and one ace.

“It was well deserved,” Beck said of her setter. “She made great decisions, worked hard, made great pickups and did fantastic serving.”

Emma Beck had 23 digs, 21 kills, four stuff blocks and two aces, while Andie Galloway had 27 digs, 16 kills and three aces, Kim Chanley had 16 digs and two aces, Valerie Villegas had 34 digs, and Cali Holmes had 10 kills.

On Aug. 25, Kenai had started its season with a 3-0 victory over Sitka in Kenai. Coach Beck expected a much tougher match this time around. Sitka had three players returning from a team at state the Kardinals had beaten in 2019.

Beck knew those three didn’t get much play at all in 2020 due to the pandemic, so she knew the Wolves would be a lot better this time around.

“It was no surprise they showed up and were a great team,” she said.

Beck said smart play, overexaggerated passing and the serving of Phillips made a big difference in Game 5.

Valdez 3, Seward 1

The Buccaneers notched a 25-20, 26-24, 16-25 and 25-22 victory over the Seahawks to drop Seward to 10-7 overall.

Kenai 3, Monroe 0

The Kardinals started in the first round with a 25-11, 25-17 and 30-28 victory over the Rams.

Emma Beck was named player of the game for racking up 12 kills, four aces and three blocks.

Also for the Kardinals, Jorgi Phillips had 21 assists and four aces, Andie Galloway had 17 digs, eight kills and an ace, Valerie Villegas had 24 digs and Erin Koziczkowski had five stuff blocks and four kills.

“It was a great match that went according to plan,” Beck said. “We saw them at the Grace tournament and beat them there, so we had a little film on them, which was great.”

Valdez 3, Homer 0

The Buccaneers notched a 25-22, 25-20 and 25-23 victory over the Mariners in the first round to drop Homer to 7-3.

Gracie Gummer had 11 kills for the Mariners, while Izze Dye had five kills and Brooke Shafer had 17 assists.

Homer coach Stephanie Carroll texted that Zoe Adkins had three aces and was named player of the match for her great defense.

Seward 3, Bethel 0

The Seahawks breezed through the Warriors in the first round by scores of 25-13, 25-17 and 25-19.

“It was a great all around game,” Seward coach Jodi Kurtz texted.

Kurtz said the Seahawks played well on offense and defense, and hit almost all of their serves.

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