Kenai Central, the No. 1 seed from the Southern Division, and Houston, No. 1 from the north, went undefeated on the first day of the Southcentral Conference volleyball tournament at Kenai Central on Thursday.
The Kards topped Redington 3-0 and Nikiski 3-0, while Houston defeated Seward 3-1 and Homer 3-2.
Kenai and Houston will play for a spot in the final at 5:15 p.m. today at Kenai.
The other spot in the final, and the other automatic berth to Class 3A state, will be determined by who emerges from the playback bracket.
In the first round of the bracket, Seward and Grace, which lost to Homer 3-1 in the first round, will play at 10 a.m. Anchorage Christian Schools, which lost 3-0 to Nikiski, and Redington will play at 11:45 a.m.
The Seward-Grace winner will play Nikiski at 1:30 p.m., while the ACS-Redington winner will play Homer at 3:15 p.m. The winners of those two matches play at 7 p.m. Friday. The winner of that match plays the Houston-Kenai loser at 10 a.m. Saturday for a state spot and spot in the 2 p.m. title game.
Kenai 3, Nikiski 0
Senior setter Jorgi Phillips had a big match to push the Kardinals past the Bulldogs, the No. 3 seed from the south.
Phillips had 22 assists, 13 digs, five aces and five kills.
“She put a lot of hittable balls to all our hitters, but we also need her to be offensive when she’s in the front row,” Kenai head coach Tracie Beck said. “I love it, because she sees the court so well.”
Coach Beck also said her hitters did well, with Emma Beck leading the way with 12 kills and Cali Holmes getting five kills.
“I think there was great communication and great energy and you can see them enjoying what they are doing,” coach Beck said. “When you work hard all this time, you want to enjoy all the hard work they’ve put in and you can see them doing that.”
Kimberly Chanley had 23 digs for the Kards, while Camilla Gonzalez added 15 digs.
Nikiski coach Stacey Segura said her squad played its best defensive match of the season. Kailey Stynsberg had 16 digs for Nikiski, while Maggie Grenier added 15 digs.
“That was great defense,” Segura said. “I haven’t seen my girls play defense like that in a long time.”
Segura said her team did not attack well, especially in the first two games. Ashlynne Playle had seven kills and two blocks, while Alexa Iyatunguk had five kills and two blocks.
The Nikiski coach said that in the first two games, Nikiski was attacking timidly and not the way the Bulldogs normally do in practice.
“They started doing that in the third game, but it was a little too late,” she said. “So I think they learned their lesson. It’s regions and a we don’t know if there’s a tomorrow type of situation.
“So we’re just going to have to play fearless and attack the ball.”
Houston 3, Homer 2
The Hawks outlasted the Mariners, No. 2 from the south, to reach the semifinals.
Izzy Dye had 16 kills for Homer, while Channing Lowney had 14 kills and Brooke Shafer had 35 assists.
Homer coach Stephanie Carroll said her team didn’t serve well and didn’t play with enough energy to win the match.
Kenai 3, Redington 0
The Kardinals defeated the Huskies, No. 4 from the north, 25-12, 25-13 and 25-17.
Emma Beck had 12 digs and 11 kills for the Kardinals, while Jorgi Phillips had 20 assists and four aces. Also for Kenai, Avia Miller had four kills, Cali Holmes had four kills and four aces, and Kimberly Chanley had 21 digs.
Houston 3, Seward 1
The Hawks topped the Seahawks, No. 4 from the south, in the first round.
Nikiski 3, ACS 0
The Bulldogs topped the Lions, No. 2 out of the north, in the first round. The scores were 25-21, 25-19 and 25-20.
For the Bulldogs, Avery White had 14 digs and five kills, Kailey Stynsberg had 14 digs and two aces, Maggie Grenier had 24 digs and three kills, Ashlynne Playle had four kills and two blocks, and Alexa Iyatunguk had two kills and four blocks.
Homer 3, Grace 1
The Mariners notched a first-round victory over the Grizzlies, No. 3 out of the north.
Channing Lowney had 12 kills for the Mariners, while Izzy Dye had nine kills, and Brooke Shafer had 30 assists and five aces.
Soldotna has 1-1 day at NLC tourney
Soldotna, the No. 4 seed, defeated No. 5 Palmer before losing to No. 1 Colony on Thursday at the Northern Lights Conference volleyball tournament at Wasilla.
The Stars topped Palmer 25-19, 16-25, 25-12, 12-25 and 15-9. Kiara Forkner had 27 digs for the Stars, while Nicole Dickinson had 18 assists, Sadie Lane had 12 kills, Katelyn Morrison had 10 kills and six aces, Hallie Fischer had three blocks and Athena Rossiter had three blocks.
The Knights defeated SoHi 15-25, 25-18, 25-15 and 25-19. Morrison had 16 digs, 13 kills and eight aces. Forkner had 11 digs, Lane had eight kills and Dickinson had 28 assists.
The Stars play the winner of No. 2 Wasilla and Palmer at 5 p.m. today in the playback bracket. No. 3 Kodiak upset No. 2 Wasilla in the first round.