The Kodiak High School sports teams invaded the Kenai Peninsula on Thursday, and the Bears started the weekend with a 3-1 volleyball win over Soldotna on Thursday night at Soldotna High, rallying back after a narrow 28-26 first-set loss to post wins of 25-18, 25-13 and 25-18.
The Stars will get a chance for redemption, however, with a Saturday game against Kodiak, the same day the Bears football team is set to take on Soldotna on the gridiron.
On Thursday, SoHi took an early lead with an exciting first set, but from there, all momentum was lost once they began making mistakes.
“They really get down on themselves when they make mistakes, they focus too much on the bad things rather than see the good things they’re doing,” said SoHi coach Emily Kenagy. “That’s what we need to work on, just know that they’re better.”
Julie Litchfield provided 29 assists to lead the Stars, a performance that impressed Kodiak coach Amy Willis enough to include her as one of the state’s top setters. Litchfield’s game had her scrambling across the court so many times she began colliding with her own teammates.
“She’s pretty good, she had a good game tonight,” Kenagy said. “I thought our passing was pretty good, our aim was OK tonight, I think we just beat ourselves a couple times.”
Along with Litchfield’s set game, Katelynn Kerkvliet teamed up with Katelyn Earl to create a formidable blocking force. Kerkvliet had 10 blocks and Earl recorded five blocks and nine serve points. Alex Ashe added seven serve points and Skylar Shaw had nine.
But for Kodiak, the communication proved more effective than pure numbers alone.
“This team really likes to come back, that’s what we traditionally do, and I have a strong group this year,” Willis said. “But I think it’s time we broke the habit.
“We made some adjustments earlier this week in practice, so to put it together on the floor was really a wakeup call for us.”
If anything, Soldotna suffered a poor service game.
After coming back from four points down midway through the first set to win in an extra-points contest, Soldotna wasn’t able to string enough points to keep up with the frantic pace of Kodiak.
“Don’t lose,” said Willis when asked what she told her players during timeouts. “The thing we were working on going into this was talking about was communication. We wanted a 95 percent serve, but I don’t know if we got that.”
After a timeout midway through the second set, with Soldotna leading 15-13, Kodiak rode a 12-3 streak that won the Bears the game, then started the third set with a point already on the board due to a technical violation on SoHi’s part. From there, Kodiak streaked out to a 14-9 lead, then got red hot by scoring eight straight points to dominate the set, highlighted by kills from Carissa Cannon and Megan Pyles.
Hannah Wandersee had 11 kills and 22 digs to lead Kodiak, and teammate Summer McKechnie provided 31 assists. Pyles added eight kills and three aces, Isabella Riina had 16 digs and Erika Fallorin had 15 digs.
Kodiak will face Kenai twice this weekend; once today at 5:30 p.m. and again on Saturday morning, before meeting Soldotna a second time on Saturday afternoon.