Both the Soldotna and Kenai Central volleyball teams needed a victory against their rival Tuesday at Kenai to get over losing two games to Kodiak and get ready for a big trip to the Matanuska-Susitna valleys.
The visiting Stars got the victory, while the Kards may have at least discovered something to help them on their Valley sojourn.
Soldotna, which had lost to Kodiak on Thursday and Saturday, topped Kenai 25-15, 25-10 and 25-22, to improve to 1-2 in the Northern Lights Conference and 1-2 in nontournament play. Kenai, which lost to Kodiak on Friday and Saturday, fell to 0-3 in the league and 0-4 in nontournament play.
Soldotna is at Palmer on Thursday, Colony on Friday and Wasilla on Saturday, while Kenai sees Colony on Thursday, Wasilla on Friday and Palmer on Saturday.
Soldotna junior outside hitter Taryn McCubbins said it felt great to get rid of the taste of the Kodiak sweep.
“We learned not to underestimate, and to be ready for anything,” McCubbins said. “We thought, ‘It’s just Kodiak. They’re going to have jet lag.’ Oh, no.”
The Stars got off to a quick start against the Kards, taking a 7-1 lead in Game 1 as Julie Litchfield served out four straight points. Katelynn Kerkvliet had three kills and a stuff block in the spurt, en route to recording seven kills and six stuff blocks on the evening.
Litchfield, who had 30 assists, would add three service points late in the game as the Stars cruised to the 25-15 win.
Kenai Central coach Tracie Beck s aid her squad does not have a tall player like Kerkvliet. That means the Kardinals are going to have to bring the energy on defense, and that didn’t happen in the first two games.
“They didn’t come in ready to play,” Beck said of her squad. “I felt like they gave them the first two games without a fight.
“In the third game, they mustered up some fight.”
In the second game, SoHi’s Lindsey Wong served out five points as the Stars grabbed a 9-3 lead. Later, libero Alex Ashe, who provided solid passing all night, had eight straight service points for a 21-6 lead.
“We did play well together as a team,” McCubbins said. “We really started encouraging each other. Our passing and hitting was phenomenal.”
In the third game, Beck got the fight for which she has been looking. After struggling last year, Beck said the Kardinals worked hard on their game in the offseason.
The coach said the team is 10 times better physically than last season. But that still leaves the crucial mental side of volleyball.
“Our ability to come in, take care of business and go for the win is still lacking,” Beck said.
In the third game, Makayla Wong, who had an ace and seven kills, put one away for a 16-10 lead, but unlike in the first two games, the Kards refused to fade.
“Kenai did step it up and gave us a nice challenge,” McCubbins said. “They picked it up and we had to step up to the challenge.”
Kenai, keyed by two service points from Paige Ramos and two more from Alli Steinbeck, fought back to tie the game at 19 when Dacia Shier and Kiana Harding combined for a stuff block on Kerkvliet.
However, Kenai then missed a serve, and two shaky service returns put the Kards down 22-19. Kenai would pull within 23-22, but Makayla Wong eventually finished off the match with a kill.
Makenna Rosin added two blocks for the Stars. For the Kards, Justice English had 19 digs, while Harding had five kills. English, Harding and Abby Beck each had an ace.