So far, so good for Soldotna head volleyball coach Luke Baumer.
Baumer’s SoHi Stars rolled to a championship victory Saturday at the 12th annual Shayna Pritchard Memorial Tournament at Nikiski High School, holding off a scrappy Kenai Central squad 2-0. SoHi won with game scores of 25-17 and 25-23.
Although Kenai plays a division below Soldotna in the state classifications, Baumer said it’s always a task when facing off with their old peninsula rivals.
“It always puts that lump in your throat,” he said. “The girls end up sweating a little bit more, and shaking a little more. The first time we played them, it wasn’t easy by any means.”
Nikiski had won its home tournament the last two years but gave way this year to its peninsula rivals. The Bulldogs ended up losing the third-place game to Mt. Edgecumbe. Bethel overcame Grace Christian to take fifth place.
Saturday’s final was a rematch of 2016, when SoHi defeated Kenai 2-1.
This time around, SoHi started fast, breezing to a dominant win in the first set. The Stars feasted on the Kenai defense by raining blows down from senior hitters Ituau Tuisaula, Bailey Armstrong and Serena Foglia.
Tuisaula ended the night with tournament MVP honors, while SoHi teammate Holleigh Jaime also made the All-Tournament Team. The list included Kenai’s Bethany Morris, Abby Every and Bayleigh Skorupa, and Nikiski’s Kaitlyn Johnson, Kaycee Bostic and America Jeffreys.
Kenai toppled Nikiski in the tournament semifinals with a 2-1 match win with scores of 25-20, 21-25 and 15-6, showcasing an improved depth of the team. In the second set against SoHi, the Kards battled back to take the lead at 18-16, and pushed it to 20-18 on a tip kill by Morris.
A kill point by Tuisaula kick-started a 3-0 run for SoHi that helped the Stars finish strong.
Kenai head coach Tracie Beck left feeling optimistic about the Kards.
“We have a really well-rounded team that has put work into this upcoming season to be successful,” Beck said. “But Ituau is tough to stop. We can play with them when she’s sitting on the bench.”
Morris ended the night with eight kills, while Jenna Streiff had 24 digs and Kaylee Lauritsen added 10 assists.
After losing to Kenai in the semis, Nikiski lost to Mt. Edgecumbe in the third-place game 25-18 and 25-20.
Against Edgecumbe, Nikiski got 11 digs each from America Jeffreys and Kaitlyn Johnson, while Kaycee Bostic recorded seven kills and four blocks. In the semifinal against Kenai, Jeffreys posted 15 digs while Lillian Carstens notched seven kills. Also, Johnson had six digs and five aces, Angela Druesedow had five assists and Rosalie Anderson ended with six digs.
Earlier, SoHi beat Mt. Edgecumbe 25-12 and 25-15 to advance to the final.
Homer wins North/South tournament