The mood of the coaches was not a good way of discerning which team won Tuesday night’s volleyball match between host Nikiski and Kenai Central.
After her team improved to 5-0, still not having lost a game, by topping the Bulldogs 25-19, 25-10 and 25-16, coach Tracie Beck quickly shifted into figuring out what her team can do to improve.
“After the game, it’s fun when you win, but you’ve still got to fix things,” Beck said. “I’m always thinking about the next piece of the puzzle.”
The Bulldogs fell to 0-5 with the loss, but coach Stacey Segura said the match was an important step forward for her squad.
“I had fun tonight as a coach,” Segura said. “The big things we were focusing on were positivity and being selfless.”
Beck said the main thing occupying her mind after the game was various adjustments to keep from getting “rolled on.” That’s volleyball speak for when the opposition is able to run off a streak of service points.
In tight matches, service streaks cause a hole that’s hard to dig out of. Kenai’s block and variety on offense was able to overcome those tough stretches, though.
“Kenai’s the tough team on the peninsula,” Segura said. “Their block shut us down.”
Beck said it is a luxury to have so many tall players blocking well.
“I wouldn’t say we’re known for tall girls,” the longtime Kenai coach said. “The Kodiak coach and I always used to tease each other that we had the shortest teams in the old region.”
Not only do the tall players block, but they give setter Kaylee Lauritsen, who had 24 assists and three aces, a wide array of options. Bethany Morris had 10 kills, while Andie Galloway had seven kills, Abby Every had five kills, Erin Koziczkowski had four kills and Emma Beck had four kills. Every had 13 digs, while Galloway had 10.
Beck also said Valerie Villegas had her best game on varsity. She had 16 digs and three aces as the libero.
The Kenai coach said the program is seeing the benefits of proper fundamentals from an early age. Beck also serves as the middle school coach. Current seniors, juniors and freshmen all won borough titles as eighth graders, while the sophomores were second.
Segura has had teams packed with varsity experience in recent years. She said veteran teams move on quickly from their mistakes, but this year’s Bulldogs had been dwelling on mistakes.
“I’ve been struggling with how to coach this group,” she said.
With Kenai’s strength and the fact that Nikiski had not played since Sept. 12, Segura knew staying positive would be a challenge, but she said her team passed the test with flying colors.
She said the next piece of the puzzle is to develop more chemistry between the setters and hitters in order to consistently beat a block like Kenai’s.
Lillian Carstens led with six kills. Rosalie Anderson had nine digs, while Emma Lakin had eight digs and Jaycee Tauriainen had seven digs. Lakin had five assists, while Tauriainen had four assists.
Segura also lauded Mckinlee Jeffreys and Alyssa Nunley for their play. She said both are newcomers to varsity, but both took in-match criticism from their coach and made the changes they were asked to make.