Kenai Central had more seniors, but Soldotna had more experience.
The SoHi volleyball team scored a 3-0 sweep of the Kardinals on Cliff Massie Court at Kenai Central on Friday. SoHi moves to 5-1 in the Northern Lights Conference and 7-2 overall, while Kenai remains winless on the season.
“We’re just more experienced,” Soldotna coach Sheila Kupferschmid said. “Jason (Diorec) and Pako (Whannell) are good volleyball coaches, but we have more experience.
“We have three very good seniors and I thought the seniors led tonight.”
The seniors for SoHi are Callie Christiansen (20 assists, four service points, three digs, one kill), Ella Stenga (nine service points, seven kills, nine digs, one block) and Shay Zener (14 service points, nine digs, two kills).
“I feel like the seniors are stepping up and playing really good ball in the last few matches,” Kupferschmid said. “Hopefully, they continue to lead us.”
The Kardinals honored five seniors for Senior Night — Nikki Prior, Sam Kompkoff, Denali Lockwood, Mayzie Potton and Kristen Carter. But while SoHi’s seniors, and even some of its underclassmen, got plenty of varsity experience last season, Kenai’s seniors did not because the Kardinals graduated seven after the season.
“Getting more varsity reps — that’s been our motto this year,” Kenai co-coach Jason Diorec said.
With the Kenai-SoHi football game set for Saturday, a large crowd representing both schools warmed up their lungs.
“It was definitely the loudest gave we’ve played all season,” said SoHi’s Aliann Schmidt, who had five kills, four service points, one block and one dig.
Both Kupferschmid and Diorec said the noise may have accounted for poor serving in the match. Soldotna missed 16 serves, including nine in the second game, while Kenai wasn’t much better.
“There was high emotion tonight with Senior Night,” Diorec said. “The crowd was awesome for both Kenai and SoHi and the nerves were there.”
In each of the three games, the Kards were able to hang with the Stars for a while, but SoHi would pull away late and keep Kenai from reaching 20 points.
Diorec and fellow co-coach Pako Whannell continue to be encouraged by the improvement with each match.
“It’s all mental focus right now,” Diorec said. “When we stay focused and concentrate, everything falls into place. When we let up, we go from hot to cold.”
Schmidt said the Stars are coming together in all facets of the game right now. That explains the strong finish to each game.
“Once we started doing good and encouraging each other, we were able to feed off the momentum,” she said.
Holleigh Jaime added 11 service points and 17 digs for the Stars, while Kalyn McGillivray had three service points and a dig, Kodi McGillivray had nine service points, six kills and two digs, and Bailey Leach had four kills and two blocks.
For the Kardinals, Lockwood had nine service points and two aces, Prior had seven service points and four kills, Maddie Galloway had two aces, Potton had 11 kills, and Kompkoff had five service points and two kills.