Nikiski’s Alexa Iyatunguk leaps to block a ball on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski’s Alexa Iyatunguk leaps to block a ball on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

SoHi volleyball sweeps Nikiski’s homecoming match

The Nikiski Bulldogs were swept by the Soldotna Stars in Nikiski’s homecoming volleyball game Thursday.

SoHi rises to 4-5 in nontournament play. Nikiski falls to 1-3. Nikiski’s previous win was against SoHi earlier in the season.

Nikiski coach Stacey Segura said the Bulldogs are going through something of a midseason slump, though she said her girls were staying positive and working hard.

Segura said that during most midseasons, she has to focus on team mentality, but this season that isn’t really a concern.

“We’re trying to build our volleyball IQ and make the best decisions possible with the ball we’re given,” she said. “I definitely don’t think that we’ve peaked yet.”

SoHi coach Luke Baumer said the team has been a lot looser since shifting its focus to the controllables.

“We can’t control winning,” he said. “You can have an amazing match between two teams, but always one team will end up walking away statistically losing.”

Instead of the scoreboard, Baumer said his team came out Thursday with a different focus.

“We decided we’re going to come out swinging and be confident,” he said. “It takes a lot of pressure off the players when they don’t have to look at the scoreboard.”

Baumer said the previous loss to the Bulldogs gave him and the Stars a better idea of what to watch out for.

“Their middle blocker is outstanding,” he said.

Segura said she’s not disappointed tonight. She said SoHi is a big contender on the peninsula, and there’s a lot going on for her team this week.

She said homecoming is a huge distraction. After years of coaching, she said no matter how hard they try, the girls are going to find themselves pulled in countless directions.

“They’re up late, going to movie nights, football games, bonfires,” Segura said. “There’s a lot of distractions going on.”

In the first set, Nikiski opened with a strong early lead, which they held for most of the game. Toward the end of the game, the Stars managed to catch up, bringing a tie at 21. The Stars managed to lock it up without Nikiski scoring another point, with a final score of 25-21.

In the second, the Stars quickly built a lead and closed out the game quickly, ending at 25-15.

The last game was closer, as the Bulldogs pushed hard to spoil the SoHi sweep, the score was tied at 13. Again, however, SoHi managed to pull away, and they closed out the game and the match with a 25-22 finish.

Baumer said Katelyn Morrison, Sadie Lane, Nicole Dickinson and Karley Johnson were strong performers.

Baumer said Dickinson is “the glue that mends the defense and the offense together.”

Good pass or bad pass, Baumer said Dickinson can get the ball and put it somewhere that the hitters can get a swing on it.

Morrison led kills for SoHi with 12, followed by Lane at 10. Clare Henry led digs with 10. Morrison also led aces, with four. Dickinson had 22 assists.

Segura said senior setter Savanna Stock stood out Thursday.

“She’s a smart girl and she’s made a lot of improvements with the setter. She’s trying some new things — to better herself and better her teammates,” Segura said.

Segura said right now she’s trying to encourage the team to step outside of its comfort zones and try new things.

Ashlynne Playle led kills for Nikiski with six. Avery White had four. Maggie Grenier led digs with 17, while Kailey Synsberg had 11. Grenier also had three aces. Stock had eight assists.

SoHi’s week is far from over. The team plays Palmer this weekend.

“This was a great match for us before we went to play Palmer, but we know they’re gonna be really, really tough,” Baumer said. “As long as we’re able to keep focused on the things that we can control – making sure that we’re playing the game that we know how to play and just working together, I’m really not too concerned about how we’ll fare.”

Nikiski plays against Homer on Tuesday. Segura said the team would rest and watch film Friday, but that they would hit practice Monday excited, and try some new strategic things ahead of the game.

Kenai 3, Redington 0

The visiting Kardinals rolled to a Southcentral Conference victory Friday. The scores were 25-12, 25-16 and 25-13 as Kenai moved to 4-0 in the league and 6-0 in nontournament play.

Kim Chanley had six aces and 36 digs, while Cali Holmes had six aces, Genesis Trevino had 10 digs and seven kills, and Emma Beck had 10 kills and three aces.

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