The senior civics project of Valerie Villegas was a smashing success Friday at Kenai Central High School. Her volleyball team did OK, too.
“The fundraiser was so great with everyone coming out,” Villegas said. “Winning was the cherry on top.”
Villegas and fellow Kenai Central senior James Sparks helped put together the annual Killing Cancer on the Kenai event to raise money for the Taylor family. Marla Taylor, whose son Kainoa is set to play football for Kenai Central next year as a freshman, is fighting metastatic breast cancer.
Kenai Central coach Tracie Beck said $9,383.79 was raised Friday night. And the Kardinals also were able to defeat Nikiski 25-14, 25-13 and 25-19 in Southcentral Conference play.
Villegas said she got to know Marla Taylor when attending the Kaleidoscope School of Arts and Science.
“She was always there helping and she would make me and my family these paintings,” Villegas said. “She’s just always been in my life.
“So I thought it was perfect with having her son coming in next year and going to the football program. I thought it was perfect for me and my friend that is also on the football team to come and do it together so we can be a welcoming family.”
Beck said the Kardinals had been doing a breast cancer fundraiser and sending the money to national research until about five years ago, when of the 30 girls in the program, nine had mothers with breast cancer, or who had recovered from breast cancer, or who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Since then, money raised has been going to local families like the Taylors.
“And so, as always, stuff is just showing up from all over the community, from people that aren’t even in the school system,” Beck said. “When it’s personal, people in this community are just unbelievable.”
Last year, the event couldn’t happen due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I thought it was amazing,” Villegas said of Friday’s fundraiser. “I remember as a freshman and a sophomore, when we did this, how big it was, and how many silent auction baskets we had. But I really thought this year was the biggest.”
The Kardinals also found success on the volleyball court, moving to 10-0 overall in nontournament play and 6-0 in the league. Nikiski falls to 1-5 and 1-8.
As an undefeated team, the trick for the Kardinals is to keep improving and not get complacent.
“We just have to continue to improve because everybody’s improving, and should be, and so you push yourself to peak at the right time of the year,” Beck said.
Beck is happy with what the team has done recently to improve.
At the 2021 Lady Grizzly Volleyball Tournament on Oct. 8 and 9, Kenai was able to finish fourth despite not having setter Jorgi Phillips or middle hitter Erin Koziczkowski due to illness and injury. The Kards used the absences to discover new weapons in setter Kate Wisnewski and middle Camilla Gonzales.
Wisnewski sprained an ankle in Friday’s JV game, but Gonzales came through in the varsity match with five aces.
Thursday, Kenai, a Division II school, swept Division I Wasilla. It’s the first time a team coached by Beck has swept the Warriors.
“That was our best game,” Villegas said. “I felt really good about that one.”
Villegas had 17 digs against the Bulldogs, while Emma Beck had 11 kills, Koziczkowski had six kills, Cali Holmes had four kills and Genesis Trevino had five aces.
Nikiski coach Stacey Segura said Kenai was able to use serves to stay in control of the match.
“We definitely weren’t on top of our serve-receive game,” the coach said. “They’ve got some good serves and that stopped us from running our offense.”
Segura also said the Bulldogs struggled to communicate in the loud environment.
“Especially with this team, we’re always put in situations where we have to learn the hard way,” she said. “We have lessons each game. We have to make sure those mistakes don’t happen again.”
Segura said her team has improved a lot since the beginning of the season. If that continues, she said the Bulldogs will be ready to be a factor at the conference tournament.
The coach said Rylee Ellis has been playing well. Friday, she had six digs. Mckinlee Jeffreys, who recently took over at libero, had 11 digs. Savanna Stock added six digs, while Ariel VanZandt had four kills, Ashlynne Playle had three kills and Camry Ellis had three kills.
Wasilla sweeps Soldotna
The visiting Soldotna volleyball team won games against Soldotna on Friday and Saturday in Northern Lights Conference play.
The Stars fall to 0-6 in the league and 3-10 overall in nontournament play.
Soldotna lost 3-1 on Friday and 25-17, 26-24 and 25-18 on Saturday.
Friday, Katelyn Morrison had 15 kills and four aces to lead the Stars, while Chloe Armstrong had 11 kills, Clare Henry had 14 digs and Adarra Hagelund had two blocks.
Saturday, Morrison had a great day serving, with five aces on 11 serves, and putting all 11 of her serves in. Morrison added seven kills, while Armstrong had five kills and four blocks. Also for the Stars, Emma Brantley had four aces and 12 assists, while Aleena Zener had 15 digs.
Luke Baumer said his squad is getting better and better.
“We’re peaking, but every other team is getting better,” Baumer said. “We’re going point for point with teams.”
Friday, Baumer said outside hitters Morrison and Armstrong were great on the attack, but SoHi missed 15 serves. Saturday, when the serving was on, Baumer said Wasilla’s block was very hard to overcome.
Baumer said Annie Burns, Clare Henry and Sadie Lane all did a good job filling in off the bench at various points.
“I’m impressed by how the entire team is stepping in,” Baumer said. “I think we’re starting to play the best volleyball we’ve played all year.”
Seward doesn’t go to Nome Tournament