The host Nikiski volleyball team celebrated senior night by defeating Seward on Thursday in Southcentral Conference action.
The Bulldogs won 14-25, 25-22, 25-12 and 25-22 to move to 1-4 in the conference and 2-5 overall. The Seahawks fall to 3-3 in the league and 3-5 overall.
Seward had swept Nikiski at home Sept. 23. The Seahawks won the first game comfortably Thursday, then were leading in the second game before Nikiski’s Avery White went on a serving streak to deliver the game to the Bulldogs. White had eight aces and five kills.
“She’s generally one of those that has like five or six aces, but she also has maybe two or three serves that miss and cancel all of that out,” Nikiski head coach Stacey Segura said. “She did awesome tonight. She really showed up with her serve.”
In the first game, Segura altered her rotation to give seniors Savanna Stock and Ember Nelson the start. Senior foreign exchange student Giovanna Tabosa of Brazil also was honored, along with manager Jessica Perry.
Even when getting back into the normal rotation in Game 2, Nikiski still fell behind.
“Our defense was very slow,” Segura said. “We weren’t moving very well. We were just watching balls drop and not picking them up.”
Stock, who had 13 assists and five kills, said White’s serves were definitely the difference.
“I think we all kind of thought that we were going to lose at that point,” Stock said. “Her making those serves, it definitely secured it for us.”
After White’s serves, Nikiski was able to rediscover momentum found at the end of the Lady Grizzly Volleyball Invitational over the weekend.
“We had some mind-set changes that I asked the girls to make throughout that tournament that, hopefully, got them to stop thinking about themselves and their mistakes and start thinking about the game differently,” Segura said. “When they started doing that, they had more of a mission mind-set.
“I think that definitely helped.”
“We were doubting ourselves and with a change in mind-set, it just made us be able to be like, ‘OK. We can do this,’” she said.
Maggie Grenier added 12 assists for Nikiski, while Alexa Iyatunguk had five kills and four blocks, and Ashlynne Playle had 10 kills and four blocks.
Seward coach Jodi Kurtz said she’s not sure why the momentum turned so suddenly in the match.
“They just weren’t making passes and weren’t covering,” Kurtz said.
Kurtz said Mikinley Williams had a good match for Seward. The coach said Williams is a good all-around player and is always hustling.
“I always expect hustle and a lot of hard work from Seward,” Segura said. “They get after balls like it’s a life-or-death situation almost every time.”