PALMER — Before Tuesday the Palmer Moose had a rare 14-day stretch between matches on the schedule. But after playing in their second five-game match in three nights Thursday, the Moose just might need another break.
Palmer used a late push to gut out a 3-2 (25-21, 17-25, 25-14, 20-25, 16-14) win over the Soldotna Stars at Palmer High School.
“It was a little bit intense,” said Palmer senior Elliot Perkins, who notched a pair of late kills to help the Moose edge the Stars in the fifth game.
Palmer, which also edged West Anchorage 3-2 in Anchorage on Tuesday night, continued to shake of the rust from its two-week break from match action Thursday.
“It was tough. We’ve just been practicing, practicing really hard,” Perkins said. “It’s really hard to get back into that game mentality.”
Longtime Palmer head coach Steve Reynolds said he was proud of the way his team pulled through a match, in which things weren’t always going its way.
“I think that’s a long time without playing, but we’re not using that as an excuse. We just haven’t played much yet, and it showed,” Reynolds said. “I definitely think we played a lot better today than we did in the West High game.”
Palmer took a 2-1 lead into the fourth game, but Soldotna used the set to try to pull momentum from the home team. The Stars, led by Katelynn Kerkvliet, took a 7-3 lead early in the fourth game, and pushed that margin to 15-7 midway through. Soldotna led by as many as 10 in the game, but Palmer used a late run to chip away at Soldotna’s lead.
Even though Soldotna was able to take the fourth game, Reynolds said bringing the set to a respectable score was key for the Moose, and gave Palmer some life in the fifth game.
“There were certainly times we could have given up on games or matches, and we didn’t,” Reynolds said. “We got things going, and went out and worked. I think that helped us in the last game.”
Soldotna had the chance to serve for match point late in the fifth game, but Perkins tucked a ball just inside the back line to keep Palmer in the match and cut Soldotna’s lead to 14-13. A Soldotna hitting error tied the game at 14, and Perkins used another kill to give her team a one-point lead.
Macey Buresh and Brecken Riekena combined on a block to seal the game for the Moose.
Kerkvliet frustrated the Moose throughout the match, and led her squad with 11 total blocks.
“We were actually thinking she was a senior last year,” Perkins said with a laugh. “She was kind of a surprise.”
Julie Litchfield finished with 28 assists for the Stars, who dropped to 1-3 in Northern Lights Conference.
Despite the loss, Soldotna head coach Emily Kenagy said she was proud of the way her team played.
“I think it was an evenly matched game,” Kenagy said. “It was a good game, fun to watch.”
Buresh led the Moose with 34 assists in the win. Cassidy Giese had 21 digs and two aces. Perkins added 13 digs, and Mariah McNamara led Palmer with 13 kills.
Palmer hosts Kenai Central Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Soldotna visits Colony tonight at 5:30 p.m. and Wasilla Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
Palmer improved to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in NLC play with the victory.
Knights sweep Kards
PALMER — Ashley Turcotte finished with 14 kills to lead Colony to a 3-0 (25-22, 25-17, 27-25) win over Kenai Central Thursday night.
Turcotte also collected two digs, two blocks and two aces to help Colony improve to 1-1 in NLC play. Mackenzie Everett finished with 27 assists, five digs and three aces. Chelsea Friesen led Colony with seven digs.