The Nikiski Bulldogs volleyball squad was dealt a setback on the first day of the 2012 ASAA State 3A tournament at the Curtis Menard Sports Complex in Wasilla, losing a 3-1 tilt to Mt. Edgecumbe, the top seed out of the Southeastern conference.
Nikiski’s only game win came in the second match of the contest, with game scores of 25-19, 22-25, 25-15 and 25-13.
Nikiski still is alive in the tournament, but must win every game from here on out in the double-elimination bracket to have a shot at the championship.
After tying the match at one win apiece, Nikiski suffered at the hands of two stellar games from Mt. Edgecumbe.
“We just have a really good team, and they pushed us, and we haven’t had that many matches, especially with the blocking, that Nikiski just put up,” Mt. Edgecumbe coach Richard Calkins said. “They gave us a difficult time, but my group is an experienced group of girls, a couple of them have played in past state championships and they just buckled down and everything started to solidify.”
After two games that Nikiski coach Stacey Segura said were very close, the Bulldogs began to be overwhelmed by Mt. Edgecumbe’s attack.
“I felt that my girls were more intense in the first game, even though the score didn’t show it,” Segura said. “I felt that they were more in tune to the game than Mt. Edgecumbe was, and then they lost it the last two games.”
Segura replaced Nikiski senior Paris Davis with sophomore Laura Hufford in the libero position, reasoning that Hufford is quick and lower to the ground than Davis, and praised Hufford for a job well done. Hufford picked up 17 digs.
In the third game, the Braves were able to put together point streaks that Nikiski failed to answer back, including one such 7-1 streak that put the game out of reach.
“I think the girls started making the mistakes that they’ve had in the regular season, and these teams at state will take advantage of that,” Segura said. “I’ve told them, but sometimes it doesn’t sink in.”
In the fourth and final game, Nikiski committed several botched serve and kill attempts that allowed Mt. Edgecumbe to streak out to an 8-0 lead, and the Braves never looked back as they won the match to qualify into the quarterfinals.
Nikiski’s Rachel Thompson provided 33 assists and four blocks, Sienna Wallis had 10 kills and 10 blocks, Bailey Buchholz had four kills and three blocks, and Taylor Calderwood put up five kills and three assists.
Deenaalee Hodgdon led the Braves with 26 kills, teammate Taryn White had 23 kills and Katelyn Cook had three aces.
The Bulldogs will square up against the Monroe Catholic Rams of Fairbanks on Friday at 11 a.m. Monroe also lost its first-round game 3-1 against Nome on Thursday.
“They’ve never been to state before and you can’t make mistakes like that here,” Segura said about her team. “The state teams will take advantage of that.”