Bulldogs senior Ayla Pitt made her return and the Nikiski volleyball team cruised to a dominant sweep of the Houston Hawks on Thursday night at Nikiski High School.
Nikiski, which improved to 8-2 in the conference and 8-4 overall, won with scores of 25-10, 25-10 and 25-13. Houston dropped to 3-5 in conference play with the loss.
Pitt, who went down with an ankle sprain Sept. 30 in a match against Grace Christian, had missed two games and the Grizzly Invitational last weekend in Anchorage. Thursday night, she hit Houston up with seven kills, three aces and two blocks for points, but deflected all credit to her team.
“Nothing,” Pitt replied when asked what her absence did to the team chemistry. “I have all the confidence in them.”
Of course, head coach Stacey Segura thought otherwise.
“She has a leaders’ presence,” Segura said. “She’s consistent with that in her captain’s role.”
Pitt was joined by fellow senior Brianna Vollertsen and junior Jamie Yerkes on the front-line attack. The trio made life tough on the Houston defense throughout the match, but the Hawks biggest deficiency came in handling Nikiski’s service game.
Vollertsen finished the night with seven kills, while Yerkes had five kills and three aces. Kaitlyn Johnson notched six aces and Melanie Sexton had six kills.
On defense, Sexton came up big with 21 digs, Kelsey Clark had 15 digs and Johnson had 12.
Segura said the Bulldogs were able to utilize their three main hitters — Pitt, Vollertsen and Yerkes — very efficiently.
“That was the difference,” Segura said. “They were on point tonight. That was the first time we’ve played as a total team in a long time.”
Pitt rattled off several service points early in the first set to help Nikiski to an 8-1 lead before Houston called timeout. A 4-0 run then helped to push the lead to 18-7 before the Hawks had to call time again.
Yerkes then sealed the set with consecutive service points to put the Bulldogs up 1-0.
Serving once again got Nikiski out front in the second set, when Johnson racked up three unanswered points on serves to give the Bulldogs a 4-0 lead.
The advantage grew to 18-8 before Houston called timeout, and five straight errors by the Hawks led to set point for Nikiski, which was won by Emilee Tiner’s shot.
In the third set, the mistakes by Houston continued to pile up, leading to a quick 8-1 Nikiski lead. Clark ultimately wrapped up the match with a service point.
Wasilla 3, Soldotna 0
One night after sweeping the Colony Knights in a three-match weekend of conference action, the Stars fell in a sweep to the Warriors on Thursday night at Soldotna High School with scores of 25-22, 25-18 and 25-10.
SoHi dropped to 6-2 in Northern Lights Conference play, and 10-2 overall.
SoHi coach Sheila Kupferschmid said junior libero Shaylynn Zener fell out with ankle injury in the second set, while SoHi held a lead. With the team chemistry slightly off kilter, the Stars failed to finish the set with a win.
“We just ran into a very good Wasilla team,” Kupferschmid said of the senior-laden squad. “They had very good ball control and a good block.”
Senior Taylor Earll entered the match in place of Zener.
SoHi freshman outside hitter Ituau Tuisuala led the Stars with four kills, four service points and three blocks.
Drewe Zeek finished with six kills, six service points and three blocks, Aliann Schmidt had two kills and three blocks, Ella Stenga notched four kills, Kodi McGillivary recorded two kills and two service points, and Zener had four service points before her exit.
SoHi will end its three-game stretch of NLC opponents with a date against Palmer tonight at 6 p.m.
Colony 3, Kenai 0
The Kardinals lost to the Knights Thursday night with scores of 25-16, 25-15 and 25-22.
Cierra King led the Kenai attack with four kills and three blocks, while Caleigh Jensen had seven kills, 11 digs and four aces.
Colony improved to 5-3 in the conference, while Kenai dropped to 2-3.
Seward 3, Redington 0