Soldotna junior Serena Foglia (15) sends a shot at Wasilla’s Cheyenne Green (16) Thursday at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna junior Serena Foglia (15) sends a shot at Wasilla’s Cheyenne Green (16) Thursday at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Wasilla volleyball prevails in 5 games over SoHi

Big play after big play punctuated the action Thursday night inside the Soldotna High School gym as the SoHi volleyball team lost in agonizing fashion to the Wasilla Warriors in a tightly contested Northern Lights Conference battle.

Good thing they have a rematch set for Saturday.

The Warriors prevailed in the five-set epic with winning scores of 25-20, 21-25, 27-25, 12-25 and 16-14, keeping their undefeated conference season alive at 5-0. The Stars dropped to 5-2 in conference play.

“We’re looking forward to Saturday,” said Soldotna head coach Sheila Kupferschmid. “It’s a big match for us and my kids will be ready.”

The two programs meet again Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at SoHi.

Many momentum-changing points were won in the battle at the net, which became a power war between Wasilla’s one-two punch of senior middle hitter Cheyenne Green and senior outside Aleks Kvalheim, and the SoHi trio of outside hitter Ituau Tuisaula and middle hitters Bailey Leach and Aliann Schmidt. Tuisaula finished with 10 kills, Leach had 12 and Schmidt had eight.

Kupferschmid praised the efforts of her hitters — including Schmidt, who Kupferschmid said had one the best games of her prep career — but said Wasilla was a tad more consistent on the floor.

“We’re disappointed to lose on our home floor, Wasilla put up a good fight,” she said. “There were times they broke down, but they were more consistent that last set.”

Schmidt added eight aces, eight blocks and 18 points won, and Kupferschmid also said setter Holleigh Jaime played well, along with Carsen Brown, who provided 41 assists.

Wasilla took a 2-1 match lead but couldn’t come close to clinching the night as SoHi pummeled the Warriors in the fourth set 25-12 to force a winner-take-all set. Warriors head coach Katie Oxspring said after that dud, her team was able to close out with laser focus on defense.

“We lost that fourth game terribly,” Oxspring said. “We gave them all 25 points. We were not ready to play.

“But in Game 5 they were fighting for every point and they eliminated errors. We just left the floor happy with the results.”

Prior to the fifth set, the Stars avoided elimination with a dominating fourth set. SoHi scored the first seven points en route to an 8-1 lead before Wasilla called timeout, thanks to a suffocating block set by Schmidt, Brittani Blossom and Leach.

Wasilla rallied back with six straight points to close the gap to 8-7 as SoHi made mistakes, but the momentum swung again in SoHi’s favor as Schmidt took control for a second time, helping SoHi to a 15-7 lead with seven unanswered points.

Leach closed out the set win with an array of kill points, and junior Serena Foglia capped it with a serving ace to force a fifth set.

Tuisaula got the party started in the final game with a pair of kills, then teamed up with Schmidt to put the Stars ahead 11-10.

That would be the last lead they held, however, as three straight hitting errors by SoHi gave Wasilla the lead at 13-11. The Warriors committed two mistakes of their own to help SoHi tie it at 13 apiece.

Wasilla had two match point opportunities, first on a missed serve by Schmidt, then on a hitting point from Kvalheim. A point won from the outside by Tuisaula staved off the Warriors once, but Wasilla secured the match win when a ball sent by setter Kaitlyn Cook was not returned by the Stars.

“It was very intense, and SoHi’s a really good team,” Oxspring said.

Soldotna senior Carsen Brown (2) sets up a shot Thursday against Wasilla at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna senior Carsen Brown (2) sets up a shot Thursday against Wasilla at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna senior Carsen Brown and junior Bailey Leach (12) put up a block on Wasilla’s Aleks Kvalheim (11) Thursday at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna senior Carsen Brown and junior Bailey Leach (12) put up a block on Wasilla’s Aleks Kvalheim (11) Thursday at Soldotna High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

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