Palmer volleyball comes back to topple Kenai

The host Kenai Central volleyball team got a lot of little victories Wednesday, but it was Palmer that came away with a big win.

The Moose came back from a 20-14 deficit in Game 4 to force a Game 5, then saved two match points in Game 5 for a 17-25, 25-10, 16-25, 25-23, 18-16 victory.

Palmer moves to 2-0 in the Northern Lights Conference and 2-1 overall, while the Kards drop to 0-3 in the league and 2-3 overall.

Kenai coach Tracie Beck said the match showed how far her squad has come, but also the specific ways her team needs to improve.

“In my time here, we’ve never taken a game off of Palmer and Palmer has never had to take a timeout for strategy purposes,” said Beck, in her third year as varsity coach. “Both those things happened tonight.”

Beck also liked the way her team kept fighting back in the back-and-forth affair.

“We’ve never kept fighting back like that,” she said. “When the other team comes back at us like that, we usually stay down.”

Palmer coach Steve Reynolds said his squad also got a lot out of the contest.

“As a coach, I love playing five-game matches,” Reynolds said. “I’m competitive and I like to win them, but they are very valuable even if you lose.”

Abby Beck, who had 17 digs, 15 assists, seven kills and three aces, served out four straight points early in Game 1 for a 5-1 lead. Palmer never recovered.

“I have some issues with the first game,” Reynolds said. “We played like a team that had been on the bus all day.”

But Mariah McNamara, who had a monster night with 19 kills, got the Moose going in Game 2 by serving out the first eight points to spark the victory.

“She’s our leader,” Reynolds said of McNamara, who is in her third year of varsity play. “She leads with her game and she’s our emotional leader.”

But the Kards fought right back in Game 3, with Sierra Hall, who had five kills, serving to a 5-0 lead. Palmer cut the gap to 12-11, but three service points from Alexis Baker pushed Kenai to an 18-13 lead and eventual victory.

In the fourth game, the Kards were primed for a victory when Alli Steinbeck put down a kill for a 20-14 lead, but Reynolds called timeout and the Moose began to come back, closing with eight of the final nine points of the game.

“We tend to be fighters, traditionally, like that,” Reynolds said. “We don’t tend to just crumple up. We’ll get beat, but we’ll get beat fair and square.”

In Game 5, neither team led by more than three points. Kenai had match point at 14-13, but a hitting error tied the game up.

The Kards also had match point at 15-14, but put the serve out.

Kenai saved one match point, but McNamara ended the match with a stuff block.

“We had them in Game 4 and we had them in Game 5, we just didn’t finish,” Beck said. “They were swinging to win and we were putting the ball back in play. That’s not good enough at this level.”

Beck said the experience can serve as a springboard to better things.

“There’s still room to grow,” Beck said. “Games like this show how close we are.

“We look forward to practice and working on finishing games like this.”

Kiana Harding had eight kills for Kenai, while Amber Walters had 16 assists and Jamie Bagley had 26 digs.

For Palmer, Carly Venzke had 25 digs, Allie McPheters had 16 assists and Holly Corbin had a pair of aces.

Kenai hosts Colony today at 5:30 p.m., while Palmer travels to play Soldotna at 6 p.m.

More in Sports

Kenai Central’s Kylee Verkuilen races Nikiski for control of the ball during a soccer game at Ed Hollier Field in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, April 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai sweeps, shuts out Nikiski in Friday soccer games

Kenai girls and boys teams opened with early goals

Head coach Taylor Shaw (center) talks to the Kenai River Brown Bears during a timeout at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, March 23, 2024. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Season review: Brown Bears hope to build on solid finish to season

It’s not easy to finish a season in last place in a division, yet have plenty of reasons for optimism for the next season

Homer snow shuffles sports schedule

The Mariners were supposed to host Kenai Central in Thursday

A pair of Trumpeter Swans break through the thin ice in search of emergent vegetation at the Kenai River Flats with Mt. Redoubt in the background. (Photo courtesy T. Eskelin/USFWS)
Refuge Notebook: Has spring sprung?

I have always found the arrival of spring to be championed by the first sightings of geese at the Kenai and Kasilof Flats

Peninsula Piranhas win South Central Area Championships

The Peninsula Piranhas won the South Central Area Championships in Homer on… Continue reading

Lily Langham of Kenai Central High School and Brooklyn Larsen, Rylie Thompson and Ava Fabian of Soldotna High School, stand for a photo with their medals after competing in the USA Hockey National Championships as part of the Alaska All Stars 19U Division 2A hockey team. (photo provided)
Local skaters help Alaska All Stars to semis of national tourney

Four central Kenai Peninsula skaters were on the Alaska All Stars 19U… Continue reading

SoHi girls win distance medley relay at Big C Relays

A number of Kenai Peninsula athletes nabbed top-eight finishes at the Russ… Continue reading

Saturday: Brown Bears finish season with comeback victory in Fairbanks

The Kenai River Brown Bears finished their season with a 4-3 victory… Continue reading

Friday: Ice Dogs hold off Brown Bears

The Kenai River Brown Bears dropped a 2-1 decision to the Fairbanks… Continue reading

Blackwater Railroad Company and Silas Jones (front left) play at the 30th annual Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament on Saturday, March 23, 2024 at the Deep Water Dock on the Spit in Homer, Alaska. (Delcenia Cosman/Homer News)
Out of the Office: Good gathering, good vibes

It’s been a while since I’ve attended a good-old-fashioned social event —… Continue reading

Hunter Beck, Dan Beck, Emma Beck and Tracie Beck sit at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 3, 2024, as Emma signs a National Letter of Intent to play volleyball at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Hunter is Emma's brother, Dan is Emma's father and Tracie is Emma's mother and the head volleyball coach. (Photo provided)
Beck signs to play with UAA volleyball

Kenai Central senior Emma Beck signed a National Letter of Intent to… Continue reading

Jim Beeson coaches Kenai Central football on August 11, 1999. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Beeson, Romans part of Alaska High School Hall of Fame 2024 class

Legendary Kenai Peninsula coaches Jim Beeson and Ward Romans were named to… Continue reading