The Kenai Central volleyball team defeated Sitka 25-19 and 25-14 in the championship match Saturday as the Kardinals won the Shayna Pritchard Memorial Volleyball Tournament for the third straight season.
The tournament is held in honor of Pritchard, a 2007 Nikiski graduate who was killed in a car crash in Colorado in June 2007. Half of the tournament proceeds go to the Shayna Pritchard Scholarship Fund.
Nikiski’s Kailey Stynsberg earned the Shayna Pritchard Award at the tournament. Dylan Hooper, Nikiski athletic director, said the award goes to the athlete who best exemplifies Pritchard’s spirit. Hooper said nothing came easy to Pritchard on the court or in the classroom, but she overcame that through hard work and being a great teammate.
The Kardinals defeated Sitka 3-2 at the Division II state tournament last season on the way to finishing as the runner-up. Kenai coach Tracie Beck said the Kards lost four senior starters off that squad, so it was a great sign Kenai was able to win another Pritchard title by stopping the Wolves.
“We usually see them at state every year,” Beck said. “They’re super competitive and have great players. Their new players just seem to pick up where they left off.”
Kenai returns two from the all-tournament team at state and both made a big difference in the final. Emma Beck had 13 kills on the way to being named the tournament MVP. Jorgi Phillips had four aces and 18 assists.
Coach Beck said the MVP is a tough call in her mind between Phillips and Beck.
“She’s leading in aces, she’s leading in assists,” coach Beck said of Phillips. “She’s a stud. She makes what Emma’s doing great.
“I don’t want to take away from her, but she has an experienced setter who just does a great job placing balls she can hit on.”
Coach Beck said the rest of the team is coming along nicely, as well. Kimberly Chanley had 14 digs, while Camilla Gonzalez had three aces.
“There’s huge gains even from this weekend to last weekend,” Beck said. “And when you start to see that growth, it’s super exciting.”
In the first game, Sitka’s Elise Brady had a kill to cut Kenai’s lead to 19-18. Beck got the serve back with a kill, then Avia Miller had three straight service points to push the lead to 23-18. After a kill from Sitka’s Mecca Goldsberry, Kenai’s Grace Beiser got the serve back with a kill, then Phillips finished off the game with a service point.
In the second game, Kenai stretched the lead all the way to 22-12 with a Beck kill. Fittingly, she would eventually close the match with a kill.
While Beck and Phillips handled the bulk of the offense, coach Beck said a defense led by Jaycie Castillo, Gonzalez and Chanley also stood out.
“That’s what you dream on defense — just make it hard,” Beck said. “Make them earn the line shot or the corner angle or whatever. And they did have a hard time getting the ball down on us. They got balls down, there’s no doubt about that, but it wasn’t easy.”
Earlier in the day, Homer defeated Nikiski 25-22 and 25-23 in the first round, while Barrow defeated Bethel 25-22 and 25-16 in the first round.
Nikiski knocked off Bethel 25-13 and 25-12 for fifth place.
In the semifinals, Sitka defeated Homer 25-18 and 25-12, while Kenai topped Barrow 25-17 and 25-12. Homer defeated Barrow 25-23 and 25-18 for third place.
15th annual Shayna Pritchard Memorial Volleyball Tournament
Shayna Pritchard Award — Kailey Stynsberg, Nikiski.
MVP — Emma Beck, Kenai.
All-tournament team — Angelina Fruean, Barrow; Jorgi Phillips, Kenai; Izzy Dye, Homer; Savanna Stock, Nikiski; Ava Brady, Sitka; Brooke Shafer, Homer; Ashlynne Playle, Nikiski; Laela Mila, Barrow; Trinity Olson, Barrow.