Avery White and Ashlynne Playle leap to block a spike from Emma Beck on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022 at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Avery White and Ashlynne Playle leap to block a spike from Emma Beck on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022 at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai volleyball sweeps Nikiski

The Kenai Kardinals won out over the visiting Nikiski Bulldogs 3-0 during their homecoming volleyball match Thursday. The scores were 25-18, 25-17 and 25-18.

Kenai moves to 5-0 in nontournament play, 3-0 in the Southcentral Conference. Nikiski is 0-2 in the conference, 1-2 overall.

Kardinals head coach Tracie Beck said homecoming is always a tough week.

“You have a bunch of teenage girls who are already spread so thin,” she said. “They’re involved in leadership, they’re doing homecoming floats, they’re getting the dance ready.”

Even the victory over the Bulldogs doesn’t take the pressure off.

“Winning and taking it in three always feels great, but I just feel like we have so much work to do,” Beck said.

That work will begin Monday, Beck said.

“Let them just enjoy this time of their life,” she said. “Because it’s short.”

The first game opened with the teams largely staying on equal footing, before Nikiski managed to build a lead that the Bulldogs maintained until the score was 14-10 in their favor.

Kenai managed to start regaining ground, reclaiming the lead. Nikiski called the first timeout of the night as the score hit 17-15, this time for the Kardinals.

The Bulldogs never managed to regain control, the first set closing at 25-18.

For Nikiski on Thursday, Avery White led kills with five, while Ashlynne Playle and Savanna Stock had four. Playle also had three aces, while Avery Ellis had two. Kailey Stynsberg led with 17 digs, followed by White with nine and Maggie Grenier with seven. Stock had 10 assists.

Nikiski head coach Stacey Segura said that her girls played strong and stayed in competition the whole night against a top contender in the conference.

“We come out strong and play our best because then we can hopefully expose their weaknesses and show our strength. And I thought we did that well tonight,” the coach said.

Segura said that White showed up Thursday.

“She was all over the place, digging balls, that was the best I’ve ever seen her hit,” she said. “She was fearless.”

Segura said being fearless is a key theme for the team this season.

“I want our errors to be on hard swings, not on miscommunications,” she said.

The second game followed a similar trajectory. The teams were trading shots until the score climbed to 11-10 for the Kards. Then, again, Kenai began to move ahead.

Nikiski called a timeout as the score was 20-15 for Kenai, but they were unable to stop the Kardinals from closing out the second set at 25-17.

Emma Beck led Kenai with 18 kills, followed by Avia Miller and Grace Beiser with four each. Kimberly Chanley had 17 digs and Jorgi Phillips had 24 assists.

Coach Beck said that Emma’s strong kill performance was only possible because she was enabled by the defensive play by Chanley.

The third game climbed to tied up at 12 before, for the third time, Kenai moved ahead, reaching 17-14.

Jaycie Castillo made a heroic save for Kenai, running all the way to the back wall and performing a j-hook to thunderous applause and returning the ball for what ultimately was another scoring play for Kenai.

“It is a momentum changer. Those are the things that you dream of, because everybody is so excited,” Beck said. “Everybody celebrated her effort.”

Once again, Nikiski called a timeout at 20-15, and again, Kenai’s momentum proved unstoppable, ending the game with a score of 25-18.

Beck said Nikiski is always fun to play against.

“They’re scrappy,” she said. “They just work hard, and they’re always a great team to have in our gym.”

Kenai volleyball will be away next week with games against Redington and Houston on Thursday and Friday.

Nikiski will be playing Seward today at 5 p.m.

Segura said: “We definitely have a lot of things that we documented during the game to go home and work on. Things we can use in the game against Seward.”

She said the game will be a little slower than Thursday’s match against Kenai. The team can take control, speed things up on their side and put up a good attack.

Update: A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed the j-hook to Camilla Gonzalez instead of Jaycie Castillo. It has been corrected.

Ashlynne Playle sets the volleyball on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022 at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Ashlynne Playle sets the volleyball on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022 at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

More in Sports

Cook Inlet Academy sophomore Ian McGarry battles for a rebound against Birchwood Christian on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, at Cook Inlet Academy just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
CIA’s Ian McGarry gets 1A boys Player of Year

Cook Inlet Academy sophomore Ian McGarry was named the Class 1A boys… Continue reading

The Kenai Central cheerleading team. Back row, left to right: Caitlyn Martin, Sylvia McGraw, Ayla Tallent, Sarah Baisden, Genesis Trevino, Malena Grieme, Maya Montague, Taya Swick and Cali Holmes. Front row, left to right: Ella Romero, Brooklynn Reed and Makenize Harden. (Photo provided)
Kenai cheerleaders win 3rd straight state title

The Kenai Central cheerleading squad won its third straight Division II March… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears goalie Nils Wallstrom celebrates winning a shootout over the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Saturday, March 25, 2023, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears sweep Ice Dogs, move into 3rd place

The Kenai River Brown Bears earned a two-game sweep over the Fairbanks… Continue reading

Bears top Dogs, move into 4th place

The Kenai River Brown Bears defeated the Fairbanks Ice Dogs 4-3 on… Continue reading

Kenai girls take 4th, Kenai boys take 6th at state

The Kenai Central girls basketball team took fourth place and the Kardinals… Continue reading

Chad Anderson of Kasilof and Allie Ostrander guide Everett Anderson, 3, to the finish line Wednesday, July 19, 2017, at the Salmon Run Series at Tsalteshi Trails. Getting the free ride on Chad’s shoulders is Ben Anderson, 2. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Ostrander, Gemmell make Alaska High School Hall of Fame

Allie Ostrander, a 2015 graduate of Kenai Central High School, and Joshua… Continue reading

Kenai Central High School esports players participate in a practice match of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate ahead of a scheduled game at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Esports Week 6: Nikiski is 1st local team to earn playoff spot

Each of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s esports teams had a… Continue reading

Kenai girls, boys move to 4th-place games

The Kenai girls and boys basketball teams both notched victories Friday at… Continue reading

Bears host Ice Dogs, renew fight for playoff spot

The Kenai River Brown Bears begin a two-game series with the Fairbanks… Continue reading

Most Read