Nikiski volleyball comes back to top ACS

A Southcentral Conference victory over Anchorage Christian Schools on Friday night put the Nikiski volleyball team on the right path to start the season.

The Bulldogs rallied from a first-game loss to top ACS 3-1 in their season opener, with game scores of 21-25, 26-24, 25-20 and 25-11.

After getting off to a shaky start, the Bulldogs slowly began finding their stride and put together a consistent hitting game.

“After losing that first game, it could’ve gone completely downhill,” said senior Rachel Thompson, an experienced setter on the team. “But we took that loss and totally built off of it.

“It was amazing what the young people on our team could do. They did awesome, because you never know how a younger player will react.”

Thompson racked up 23 assists to go along with 10 aces and seven kills, and senior libero Laura Hufford ended her night with 30 digs.

Ayla Pitt recorded seven kills and two blocks, Brianna Vollertson had five service aces, and Lauren O’Brien added three service aces.

Junior Tanner Ealum led ACS with 24 digs, and teammate Hannah Edmonds added eight kills on offense. ACS dropped to 0-2 in conference play with losses to Seward and Nikiski on consecutive nights.

Nikiski coach Stacey Segura ended the night pleased with her team, adding that the opponent provided an ideal challenge for a conference match.

“I think ACS was a great matchup for us to start the season,” Segura said. “The girls could make mistakes and see what they were doing wrong, and still get back in it.”

ACS led Nikiski for nearly the entire duration of the first game, although the Bulldogs only once trailed by more than five points.

ACS continued to give Nikiski headaches using its serving game with a 5-1 start to the second match, but the Bulldogs turned a four-point deficit into a tie game midway through with several strong kills from Thompson and Melanie Sexton. ACS held match point at 24-19, but Nikiski never wavered in an impressive eight-point swing that gave them a 26-24 victory to tie the contest up at one game apiece.

“I said you guys can do this, keep fighting, you’re not done,” Segura said. “Once they realized they could do this, and got back into a system and stopped running into each other, they were fine.”

Thompson continued the strong performance with five consecutive service points to start the third game.

“I think we just got all our nervous jitters out,” Thompson said. “Then we started thinking, hey we know how to play. It helped a lot to build our confidence.”

ACS answered back with nine straight points to take a 12-8 lead, using a few laser serves and defensive blocking. Later in the game, with both teams tied at 20 apiece, it was Nikiski finishing with a strong service game, ending on consecutive serving points from Vollertson to win and take a 2-1 lead.

“We were able to relax a bit after that,” Segura said. “The third match is tough to lose because then you start thinking, we gotta win or we’re out of it. It was nice to have the girls relax after that game.”

The Bulldogs finished the night with a dominant fourth game, riding two nine- and six-point streaks to overwhelm ACS and claim the victory.

The win gives the home team a lot of confidence heading into next weekend’s Shayna Pritchard Memorial tournament at Nikiski High School.

More in Sports

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Ryan Finch (20) celebrates his second-period goal Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears complete 2-game sweep of Windigo

The Kenai River Brown Bears completed a two-game sweep of the Wisconsin… Continue reading

Saturday hoops: ACS sweeps Al Howard Tournament

The Anchorage Christian Schools girls and boys both took first place at… Continue reading

Brown Bears snap 4-game skid

The Kenai River Brown Bears defeated the Wisconsin Windigo 3-2 on Friday… Continue reading

Friday hoops roundup: Soldotna, Seward sweep rivals

The Soldotna girls and boys basketball teams swept Kenai Central on Friday… Continue reading

SoHi-Kenai hockey game called off after player removed from ice on stretcher

The Railbelt Conference hockey game between Kenai Central and Soldotna on Friday… Continue reading

Kenai Central's Emily Moss rounds a corner at the Kenai Pursuit on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai’s Moss, Colony’s Rice lead Kenai Pursuit

Kenai Central’s Emily Moss and Colony’s Jayden Rice lead the Kenai Pursuit… Continue reading

Soldotna's Tanner Inman drives on Mila Hargrave of Juneau-Douglas on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, at the Al Howard Tournament at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai, SoHi open with losses at Al Howard tourney

Anchorage Christian Schools swept Kenai Central and Juneau-Douglas swept Soldotna on Thursday… Continue reading

Hello, Neighbor

Even after living in Alaska for the better part of a decade,… Continue reading

Brown Bears look to cool off Windigo

On Oct. 22, the Kenai River Brown Bears defeated the Wisconsin Windigo… Continue reading

Most Read