The host Soldotna volleyball team notched a 25-17, 25-22, 8-25 and 25-22 victory over Nikiski in nonconference play Thursday.
The Stars, who also defeated Nikiski on Sept. 4, move to 2-0 overall, while the Bulldogs fall to 0-3.
Soldotna coach Luke Baumer said his squad, which returns just two starters, is focusing on technique early in the season and not worrying about winning and losing.
One area the Stars focused on this week is serving. Baumer said an intense serving game made a difference Thursday.
“SoHi’s serving game was way different than it was last Friday,” Nikiski coach Stacey Segura said. “That is one thing young teams struggle with. Most young teams have a hard time running an attack when they’re facing a hard-driving serving game.”
Segura also said SoHi’s attack was more consistent, also making it hard to generate an attack.
While Baumer has told his team to focus on technique and not worry about if the ball is ending up in the net or out-of-bounds, clearly the right technique is getting the right result.
“After just one week, myself and the rest of the coaching staff was excited to see how well the girls looked in the second game,” Baumer said. “We were expecting and hoping for a jump, but we’re pleasantly surprised. They made a good jump.”
In the third game, Baumer took out some of his key players. He said the subs did well, but also gave Nikiski credit for pouncing on the lack of chemistry.
“Nikiski’s a good team,” Baumer said. “They’re young, but it’s not like you can walk in and take it from them. We knew we’d have our hands full.”
Segura said her team lacked a little energy Thursday. Whether that’s because the team is still getting used to each other, or because the students are now waking up early and sitting all day in school, the coach said the team has to figure it out.
“Other than knowing we were flat, it wasn’t absolutely horrible,” Segura said. “They played well all the way around, they’re just lacking chemistry together.”
Morgan Bouschor had 11 kills and four digs for SoHi, while Aleena Zener had nine digs, Sierra Kuntz had 14 assists, Taylor Edwards had seven aces, and Sarah Rice had nine kills and four digs.
Baumer said he’s happy with the way Rice, a senior, has reached another level with her game so early in the season. The coach said the same is true of Emma Brantley, a junior who is making strides toward becoming an accurate setter. Finally, Baumer said Zener, a junior, is on pace to be on a par with great SoHi liberos of the past by the end of the season.
Nikiski’s trouble mounting an attack showed up in the stats. Savannah Ley led with four kills while Lillian Carstens had three kills and four blocks. Rosalie Anderson had 15 digs, while Jaycee Tauriainen had 12 digs. Emma Lakin and Anderson each had three aces.
Segura gave credit to Carstens for staying positive throughout.