Soldotna netters take Kenai in sweep

There was a lot on the line Tuesday night, and the host Soldotna volleyball team responded with a 25-19, 25-17 and 25-17 Northern Lights Conference victory over Kenai Central.

“Kenai is our rival and it was senior night,” Soldotna coach Sheila Kupferschmid said after her squad moved to 4-5 in the league and 8-5 overall. “We know Kenai has a very good team.

“I just think the kids were up for it.”

In addition, the match was a “pink night,” raising money for the Central Peninsula Health Foundation, Breast Cancer Fund.

Both the Stars and Kardinals (1-8, 5-8) came into the game after losing all three NLC matches on a weekend trip to the Matanuska-Susitna valleys.

“They were all so close,” Kupferschmid said. “I told the kids to stay strong for senior night. I’m happy. The seniors played so well.”

In addition to losing three on the Valley swing, Kenai had two seniors leave the team Monday. Kenai coach Tracie Beck said her team was able to overcome that and bring a lot of energy.

“I’m really proud of the girls stepping up and taking care of business,” Beck said.

The Stars were able to give seniors Taylor Wilson, Skylar Shaw, Hayley Ramsell, Haley Miller, Alex Ashe and Bailey Rosin a night to remember by getting stronger as the games, and as the match, wore on.

In the first game, the Kards had a 12-10 lead and trailed 19-18, but Ramsell, who had nine kills, two aces and two blocks, served out the last three points for the win.

“If the games were to 16, it would have been a fun night,” Beck said.

In the second game, Kenai had a 15-14 lead and had the game tied at 16, but SoHi got five straight service points from Rosin in rolling to the 25-17 win.

The Stars missed four serves in the game, but Kupferschmid said she was pleased with the service game overall because it kept Kenai off-balance, thus keeping the Kards’ hitters from getting rolling.

The coach said that because SoHi doesn’t have a lot of height, merely trying to get each serve in is not an option. She said the key is to find consistency and not misfire too often, as was the case when the Stars missed 21 serves in a close loss to Palmer.

“Anymore, this game is a slugfest, and that goes all the way back to the service line,” Kupferschmid said.

But placement can still count as much a power, and that’s why SoHi cruised in Game 3, taking a 17-10 lead and riding it home.

While Ramsell is able to rely on power, Shaw (six kills, 21 digs), Makenna Rosin (five kills) and Bailey Rosin (six service points, six kills, 20 digs) found the holes in the Kenai defense.

“They were doing a good job of hitting their spots,” Kupferschmid said.

The coach also said Lindsey Wong, who had eight service points, three kills, five digs and two blocks, did a great job setting up the offense. Meanwhile, Ashe was steady in the back row with 27 digs.

For the Kards, Abby Beck had six kills, three assists and 13 digs, Kiana Harding had five kills and three aces, Kyla Whannell had a pair of kills and Alli Steinbeck had seven assists.

“The girls were definitely getting after it,” coach Beck said. “We’ll take this and grow as we get more confidence in our rotation.”

Soldotna hosts Anchorage Christian Schools on Friday at 6 p.m. and Grace Christian on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The Kards host Homer on Friday at 5:30 p.m. and ACS on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

Homer 3, Nikiski 1

The Mariners avenged a loss to the Bulldogs earlier in the season to pull even in the season count Tuesday evening in Homer.

Homer won with game scores of 25-22, 25-14, 23-25 and 25-19.

Leading the charge were seniors Larsen Fellows and Jane Rohr with 12 kills each. Fellows added six service aces, and McKi Needham and Rohr had four apiece. Kayla Pittman added eight kills and Maggie Larue had 20 digs.

Nikiski coach Stacey Segura said for reasons that she could not explain, her defense played sluggishly.

“It was unusual for us, we’re usually pretty quick,” Segura said. “I don’t think we showed up really until the third game, and that was the first time we were able to get ahead.”

Senior libero Laura Hufford still managed to provide 31 digs for the Bulldogs. Additionally, Rachel Thompson had 17 assists and 12 digs.

Brittany Perry and Brianna Vollertson each notched six kills, Ayla Pitt had five kills, and Zykiah Cooney sent out three serving aces.

Nikiski, which is 5-3 in the Southcentral Conference (8-6 overall), will face Cordova in a pair of conference matches Friday and Saturday in Cordova.

Editor’s note: The original story has been changed to correct an error. “Pink night” is in no way affiliated with Dig Pink or the Side-Out Foundation. The Clarion regrets the original error.

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