The host Kenai Central volleyball team defeated Seward 25-21, 25-20 and 25-22 on Tuesday in Southcentral Conference action.
The Kardinals move to 3-0 in nontournament play at 2-0 in the league, while the Seahawks fall to 1-1 and 1-1.
It is a measure of how dominant Kenai’s program has been of late that Seward head coach Jodi Kurtz was happy with how her team played despite the sweep.
Since the 2020 season, Kenai has only lost two full-length matches. The Kardinals have not yet dropped a game this season.
“Honestly, I thought it was amazing,” Kurtz said. “Our girls are playing the best they’ve ever played.
“They work really hard. They have a goal, they have a focus this year. Regardless that we lost all of those, we made them work for it.”
The Kardinals were able to get the sweep thanks to a monster match from senior captain Emma Beck, who had 28 kills. Sophie Tapley was next with three kills.
Kenai Central head coach Tracie Beck said she’ll never complain about a sweep, particularly against a Seward team that won the North South Tournament over the weekend.
“I would like it a little more spread around, for sure,” Beck said of the attack. “We’ve been working on trying to take some of that pressure off of her. But that really didn’t happen for us today.
“So that says a lot about Seward’s defense there. They are picking up balls, which is great.”
Emma Beck has started all four seasons on varsity for the Kardinals, meaning she’s only been on the court twice when the Kardinals have lost full-length matches.
Tuesday, the Seahawks were more than happy to force Beck to return serve. Kurtz said the Seahawks knew sets would be going to Beck, but Beck still collected kills.
“I mean, she does find a way,” coach Beck said. “And I think it’s just that experience, playing for us for four years.
“And competitive. I mean, she wants to win.”
The Kardinals have deployed plenty of other weapons besides Emma Beck this season, but Kurtz was happy that those other weapons were blunted against her squad.
Kenai has gained a big advantage with its serve this season. Although coach Beck said her squad was a little off its service game, the Seahawks had little trouble passing serve. Ellsi Miller led Kenai with two aces.
“We work really hard at serve-receive and passing,” Kurtz said. “We think that’s the main part of getting to play volleyball — you have to have your passes.”
The Kardinals were solid on defense, with Jaycie Castillo digging 28 and Kate Wisnewski, who also had 32 assists, digging 16.
“I though Jaycie did a great job running that,” coach Beck said. “I still felt we were a bit quiet out there. I don’t know, coming off homecoming weekend maybe just a little bit.”
Kurtz said her team’s goal is to return to state after missing out last year. Part of that will involve learning to get the ball down against a team like Kenai.
“They play good defense,” Kurtz said. “I think we are learning at trying to pick holes and not just hit right to them.”
Kurtz gave credit to Robin Cronin and Mikinley Williams for powerful hits and Kyana Hutchinson for hitting consistently. The coach said setter Jordan Hartman does a great job of running the offense.
Coach Beck said she loves the way the competition is setting up on the Kenai Peninsula this season.
“I think the stronger we are on the peninsula, the better it is for all of us,” she said. “It creates these great challenge matches and grudge matches where you’re going point to point. And that makes all of us better.