The Nikiski volleyball team overcame a large Killing Cancer on the Kenai crowd Thursday at Kenai Central to notch a 25-16, 26-24, 25-12 Southcentral Conference win over the Kardinals.
The Killing Cancer on the Kenai event included a silent auction, soup feed, balloon pop and competition between the Kenai and Nikiski fire departments, and Kenai Central football team and Kenai River Brown Bears. All the proceeds went to the Central Peninsula Health Foundation to help local families battling with cancer.
Kardinals coach Tracie Beck also said her squad got a talk about prevention and how to self-check, which is important because, statistically, four of the girls on the team will come down with breast cancer.
Kenai Central is usually a loud gym, and the event drew even more people.
“I knew it was going to be loud, especially with all the extra people in the gym,” Nikiski coach Stacey Segura said after moving to 6-1 in the league and 7-1 overall. “I tried to prepare my girls as best I could.
“I told them to laugh off any mistakes and not dwell on them, because with the crowd Kenai’s momentum can build fast.”
Even without middle hitter Bethany Carstens, who is on a trip looking at a college for basketball, Nikiski’s experience was able to carry the day.
“It’s not that we lost to a shoddy team, they’re awesome,” Beck said after falling to 5-4 overall and 3-3 in the league. “Stacey has done so well building that program. They’re tough to beat.”
Kaitlyn Johnson, who Segura said was player of the match, and Kelsey Clark provided the base for the steady play.
Johnson had 12 assists, seven aces and four kills while also serving Nikiski to a 15-0 lead in Game 3. Clark provided 12 digs.
“She’s always a steady player,” Segura said. “She’s never overly excited or upset.”
The only game where Nikiski was in danger was the second game. The Bulldogs came back to tie it at 22, then Kaycee Bostic, who finished with 12 blocks and two kills, did her best Carstens impression by putting down kills to get three of Nikiki’s last four points.
“When we pass well, we put it down,” Beck said. “We did a lot of good things that game, but we couldn’t finish.”
Also for Nikiski, Emma Wik had eight assists and two blocks, while Savannah Lay and Lillian Carstens had four kills apiece.
Segura also got a chance to insert her young players when Nikiski had a big cushion. She was happy with how they performed considering the noise, especially freshman Jaycee Tauriainen.
For the Kardinals, Bethany Morris had five aces and two kills, Jenna Streiff had 15 digs, Abby Every had four kills and Jaiden Streiff had three kills.
In Game 2, Beck said at one point three of the six players on the floor were freshmen, with freshman Erin Koziczkowski doing a good job filling in due to illness. The coach said Morris provided steady passing, while Kailey Hamilton did a good job of leadership.
Today, Kenai hosts Grace Christian at 5 p.m., while Nikiski hosts Wasilla at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nikiski is in Homer at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, while Kenai had a change in Saturday schedule. Kenai’s JV plays Anchorage Christian Schools at 9:30 a.m. at Kenai Middle School, while the varsity plays at 10:30 a.m. at the middle school.