Kenai Central’s Avia Miller attacks on Nikiski’s Ashlynne Playle on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Avia Miller attacks on Nikiski’s Ashlynne Playle on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai volleyball sweeps Nikiski

The visiting Kenai Central volleyball team swept Nikiski 25-22, 25-17 and 25-8 on Tuesday in Southcentral Conference play.

The Kardinals move to 9-0 in the league and 12-0 in nontournament play. Kenai has still not lost a set in nontournament play. Nikiski falls to 3-5 and 4-6.

Kenai coach Tracie Beck said not losing a set is something the team doesn’t discuss at practice. At the same time, the coach loves how setter Jorgi Phillips and the team responds at the end of close games.

“I love the grit of this team,” she said. “Jorgi knows what’s going to work and what we need at that time. She manages our court well and is a good quarterback, and that really helps.”

The Kardinals needed that grit in the first game against the Bulldogs.

“Our loss against Kenai really didn’t change much for us going into regions,” Nikiski head coach Stacey Segura said. “So it was just relax and have fun and work really hard.”

When Kenai missed a serve in the first game, the Kardinals found themselves down 22-20. But Nikiski came back with a missed serve to make it 22-21.

Kimberly Chanley, who had 19 digs and three aces in the match, served out the last four points of the game. Emma Beck, who had nine kills and three aces, had two kills on those four points.

The kills for Beck were harder to come by than usual because Nikiski was attacking the side of the court with Phillips and Beck to limit Beck’s chances to attack.

“The girls did really well,” Segura said. “That’s actually a hard area to attack. They did really well adjusting to it. That’s the best I’ve seen my team hit down the line all season.”

Coach Beck was happy with how Phillips, who had 21 assists and 12 digs, adjusted to Nikiski’s strategy. Phillips found Genesis Trevino for six kills and Cali Holmes, who was celebrating a birthday, for four kills.

“It’s the IQ part of the game where they have grown immensely,” coach Beck said. “It’s fun to coach. You see me sit down and direct less.”

Coach Beck said the team now tracks serving percentage as the match goes on. She let her team know they had missed too many serves in the first game.

As Kenai adjusted to that and Nikiski’s attack, the Kards separated themselves from the Bulldogs. In Game 2, Emma Beck served out the final five points in the 28-17 win. In Game 3, Kenai went up 12-3 and cruised from there.

Segura said Kenai libero Chanley did a good job of adjusting to Nikiski’s attack. She said the Bulldogs didn’t adjust and that made the lopsided Game 3 possible.

Defensively, though, Segura was happy with the way the team played throughout.

“I feel like defensively and in serve-receive, that’s the best I’ve seen my girls do,” Segura said.

The coach once again lauded the play of Savanna Stock, who led with eight kills. Maggie Grenier had 12 digs and three aces for the Bulldogs, while Alexa Iyatunguk had two blocks, Avery White had 13 digs and four kills, and Kailey Stynsberg had nine digs.

Nikiski’s Avery White digs up a ball against Kenai Central on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski’s Avery White digs up a ball against Kenai Central on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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