The Nikiski volleyball team showed they still have what it takes Thursday night with a 3-0 Southcentral Conference victory over Seward at Nikiski High School.
The Bulldogs are currently in pursuit of consecutive Southcentral Conference and state titles, and won Thursday with scores of 25-10, 25-22 and 25-17. The sweep pushed Nikiski’s conference record to 5-1 and 5-3 overall.
Nikiski is fresh off a tournament win last weekend in the gold bracket of the Lady Grizzly Invitational in Anchorage, and head coach Stacey Segura said she wanted to see a fast-paced game from Nikiski.
“The goal was to maintain the speed of the game on our side,” Segura said. “We did it well for the first game, but then it’s like we slowed down for the last two.”
With nonconference, Class 4A, opponent Colony coming in Friday and another conference clash Saturday with Homer, Segura said Nikiski will need to keep their pace high for the weekend.
“We definitely need to have the speed tomorrow with Colony,” she said.
Nikiski’s front line had to deal with a slightly revamped Seahawks squad. Seward head coach Jodie Kurtz said she installed a new defensive lineup to help the serve-receive game, and the passing game was improved as well.
“It’s been a rough season, but this is the best they’ve played in a long time,” Kurtz said. “The object was to simplify.”
After a lopsided opening set won by Nikiski, the Seahawks came back reinvigorated and jumped out to an 11-8 lead over the Bulldogs. Spurred on by challenging kill shots by middle hitter Sequoia Sieverts, Seward pulled its weight with Nikiski.
Nikiski was able to get back into the fight with a sequence of strong service points by Kaitlyn Johnson, who helped lead the home team on a 7-0 run to take the lead.
Seward stayed close and got to within 24-22 before the Bulldogs finally put the Seahawks away to take a 2-0 match lead.
In the third set, an even contest was eventually commanded by Nikiski thanks to the service game of junior setter Kotori Miyoshi, who knocked down three straight serve points to put Nikiski out front 13-6. Segura said Miyoshi’s service game this season has been a huge addition to the team.
Seward had one last gasp as Naomi Ifflander tallied two service points as part of a 5-0 run that closed the gap to 19-16, but Nikiski executed down the stretch to close out the match, which was punctuated by a kill shot by Zimmerman.
Kaycee Bostic and Tika Zimmerman led Nikiski with five kills each, while Johnson added four kills and four aces to go with 10 assists and 10 digs. Libero America Jeffreys recorded 16 digs, Miyoshi had five aces, Angela Druesedow had five assists and Lillian Carstens notched four blocks.
Colony 3, Soldotna 1
The Stars lost a Northern Lights Conference match Thursday night at Soldotna High School, dropping them to 5-2 in NLC play and 11-2 overall. Soldotna split a weekend series against Wasilla two weeks ago to lose their first NLC game this year.
The Knights bested SoHi with scores of 25-23, 23-25, 25-21 and 25-23.
SoHi head coach Luke Baumer said the Stars performed admirably against a tough conference opponent despite dealing with the tragic death of a fellow SoHi student who was killed Thursday morning in a car accident in Soldotna. Baumer said the student was a friend to many of the players on the team, and all three close game losses against Colony showcased the team’s perseverance.
“It was a pretty big loss and everyone is pretty heartbroken about it,” Baumer said. “The Valley teams are always tough, we know they’re always gonna be tough, but we pulled through.”
Ituau Tuisaula led the SoHi attack with 25 kills, while Bailey Armstrong and Trayce Lyon each tallied seven kills. Lyon also had three blocks and three aces. Sierra Kuntz recorded 39 assists and three aces, while Aleena Zener added eight digs.