The Soldotna Stars volleyball squad got their 2013 season off to a fast start with a 3-0 sweep of visiting Nikiski on Tuesday evening, giving new head coach Emily Kenagy a victory in her debut appearance.
Soldotna rumbled with Nikiski in the first two sets, winning the first one 25-17 and escaping with the second one 25-22, before they dominated the final set 25-11.
“It’s really good to win right off the bat, especially it being a home game,” Kenagy said. “The girls worked hard. It takes a little bit to get them pumped up sometimes because they’re so modest, but once they get pumped up and realize how good they are, we’re good.”
Kenagy, a prep volleyball coach from Oregon, continues a winning tradition that longtime SoHi coach Bruce King has set in place, and Tuesday’s effort was another typical power display from the Stars.
Blockers Katelynn Kerkvliet and Makayla Wong provided the necessary height to stymie Nikiski’s attacks, resulting in numerous dropped balls in Bulldog territory, and libero Alex Ashe added point-saving digs on more than one occasion.
In the first two sets, Nikiski started hot but faded each time, dropping leads of 13-7 and 13-10 in each set, respectively. A 16-1 point run in the first set proved to be the difference for the win, and a 14-6 run in the second was all that was necessary to come out on top in that game.
“Honestly, it’s a team effort,” Kenagy stated. “I can’t really pick anyone out that did the best.”
Kenagy said that the Homer Jamboree from last weekend helped the SoHi players in sharpening their skills.
“I think if they believe in themselves as much as I do, then they can do anything they want,” she said.
Nikiski head coach Stacey Segura noted that her team — which lost six starting seniors and added two starting freshmen — will feature a younger look this season, and the inexperience showed its face on Tuesday.
“We’re a growing team, so it’s going to take a little time,” Segura said. “These girls are going to learn to communicate better, but we’re all excited to start the season.”
Seward 3, Kenai 2
The host Kardinals opened up their season Tuesday by dropping a tight, nonconference match to the Seahawks.
The scores were 24-26, 25-20, 19-25, 25-17 and 15-12.
“We’re ahead of where we were last year,” Kenai Central volleyball coach Tracie Beck said. “We’re trying to keep tweaking things so we can have a great combination for three straight games. We had some inconsistencies, so we’re working on that.
“The kids put in a lot of time improving over the last year and I think it showed.”
As is usually the case in a five-setter, the Kards filled up the stat sheet. Justice English had 49 assists, Dacia Shier had 18 digs and three aces, Abby Beck had 24 digs and 12 kills, and Kiana Harding had 11 kills.