The Nikiski volleyball team came up short in a close matchup against Grace Christian on Friday night at Nikiski, losing 3-1.
Grace took the first two games with scores of 25-16 and 26-24, and Nikiski came back strong in the third game with a 25-19 score, but to no avail as Grace edged the Bulldogs 25-22 in the final.
Heather Green topped Grace with 11 kills, 16 digs and three aces. Nicole Weisenfelder had six kills, 20 assists and three aces, Meghan Thacker compiled seven blocks, and Felicity Roe put up four aces.
“I tell them that they needed to play it point by point, and focus on what they can do well on our side of the court, rather than what’s going on over there,” Grace coach Valerie Steele said. “If we’re playing error-free, then we’ll be in good shape.”
Taylor Calderwood led Nikiski’s effort with 22 digs, 10 kills and four aces. Teammates Rachel Thompson had 18 digs and 23 assists, Sienna Wallis had eight kills and two blocks, and Rebekah Krogseng notched four aces.
Nikiski coach Stacey Segura said that while Nikiski is always looking for wins, an occasional loss can be a good thing.
“I thought there were great moments, and in those moments the girls were gaining points, and whenever they were off, Grace was taking advantage of it,” Segura said. “Grace is a really good team and our girls know that. I don’t think losing tonight was such a bad thing. I think it was actually a good thing. The girls were on a high after beating Skyview, and this kind of brought them down to ground level.”
Also, Paris Davis put up 18 digs for Nikiski, Katie Costello had 17 digs, Jodi Cook recorded four aces, and Bailey Buchholz had four aces and three blocks.
The Grizzlies found their strength by putting together strings of points and controlling the pace of the game.
“We changed our lineup all four games,” Steele said. “We had a different lineup every game, and they responded very well to it, they are very versatile girls. The postseason will be awesome. Some of the teams we’ll see at state, we don’t play until state, so we’ll be able to adjust at the last second if they’re hurting us in certain areas.”
Grace was able to close the first two contests out with force, boosted by runs of six, eight and six points in the first two games. A late serving error from Grace tied the second game up 24-all, but Nikiski was unable to save the ball on a kill from Grace’s Heather Green, which gave the Grizzlie’s the advantage.
In the third game, it was Nikiski that sealed the win with a 6-2 run, but that would be the high point for the Bulldogs. Grace charged out to a 12-6 lead on Nikiski in the fourth game, which supported them when Nikiski closed the gap with four straight points of their own, including when they took a brief 20-19 lead.
“I think that every time we get out there and play a team, we learn a new lesson, and that’s getting us to where we need to go,” Segura said. “This team needs to take steps to get there, because they’re not just great when they walk on the floor. They need to have a couple games where they are mentally down or not passing great.
“They need to win a few to get their confidence up but lose a few to keep them down.”